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The century of the reaper 



Inventor of the Reaper 

About 1880 


An Account of CYRUS HALL McCoRMicK, 
the Inventor of the Reaper: of the McCoRMicK 
he created: and of the INTERNATIONAL HAR 
VESTER COMPANY, his Heir and chief Memorial 



With Illustrations 

Boston and New York 


roi Yiutarr, ig.jt, wrcvittTH MWOUMICK 





^fiSAS Of If (Hfc.) PUBOG 

In this volume the genesis and evolution of 
the International Harvester Company are 
traced in outline by Cyrus McCormick, who 
also commemorates the life and work of Cyrus 
Hall McCormick, his grandfather, and ap 
praises his service to mankind. 

As the son of the inventor and the father of 
the author I take pleasure in presenting to you 
this personal tribute^ published on the occasion 
of the centenary of the invention of the reaper. 


THIS book represents such honor as I can pay to the life- 
work of the inventor of the reaper. It must be obvious 
that I, his grandson, am not in a position to write a coldly 
impartial account of his contribution to history. I am too 
proud of his career, and of its continuation in the life- 
work of other members of my family and their associates, 
to be anything but a partisan as to Cyrus Hall McCor- 
mick s place in the perspective of time. I believe, further, 
that the countless Harvester men who are following in his 
footsteps are themselves actuated largely by the pride 
they feel in their employment. There is something em 
inently satisfactory in being engaged in a worth-while 

I hope the account I now give will be accepted, not as 
propaganda for any special interest, but as a partial 
record of a century of development in certain phases of 
the agricultural implement industry. It has not been 
prepared as an official statement of harvesting machine 
history inspired in any way by the International Har 
vester Company. Nevertheless, that organization has a 
definite place in the picture as the lineal descendant of the 
business my grandfather founded. I could not have told 
the story of the events which have led up to the reaper s 
centennial celebration without indicating that I respect it 
too* After all, there is no reason why this generation may 
not take pride in its own sincerity as well as in the fine 
deeds of its forbears. 

Prejudiced though I may be in favor of the reaper and 
its machine heirs, I have endeavored to be as accurate as 


possible in the presentation of the facts of this story of a 
century. While I have gone to original sources as often as 
possible, the exigencies of my own day-to-day duties in 
the International Harvester Company have left too little 
time for original research. I have therefore had recourse 
to such secondary material as the excellent summary, 
Cyrus Hall McCormick and the Reaper/ by Thwaites; 
to Casson s two picturesque books, 4 Cyrus Hall McCor 
mick and The Romance of the Reaper ; to Ardrey s 
American Agricultural Implements ; and to an unpub 
lished thesis by Leigh, Marketing of Harvesting Ma 

Most of all I have relied for the facts relating to my 
grandfather s earlier career on his biographer, Professor 
William T. Hutchinson, the first volume of whose * Cyrus 
Hall McCormick has just been published by the Cen 
tury Company, of New York, It is to be regretted that 
the second volume, which will cover the period from 
the Civil War to McCormick s death, cannot appear for 
some time. Until then it will be impossible to get a com 
plete picture of my grandfather s life without a painstak 
ing examination of one of the most voluminous bodies of 
private and official correspondence I Have ever seen* 

For the middle period of this century of farm equipment 
progress, I have leaned heavily upon my father s diaries 
and upon conversations with him and with Mr, Alexander 
Legge, whose keen perception has missed little of signi 
ficance in the most recent forty years of the life of the 
McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and the In 
ternational Harvester Company, I have also had the in 
valuable help of certain business associates whose active 
careers have spanned the period of my life- Mr. M , J Rod 
ney, still an active Harvester man in charge of the Com 
pany s Australian affairs, has provided me with a store of 


anecdotes concerning the fine old fighting days. Many 
other delightful and stimulating stories have come from 
Mr. H. H. Wiggin and the members of the Harvester Club 
of Southern California, an organization of retired war 
riors whose loyalty to Harvester ideals is one of the bright 
spots in Harvester history. They have collected for me 
many recollections which deserve far more attention than 
the small place such a cursory book as this has been able 
to provide. 

Needless to say I have been on surer ground for source 
material concerning more recent times, I have myself 
been actively engaged in this business since 1915, either in 
distribution or production, and I have been in daily asso 
ciation with men whose years of service have been co 
extensive with the years of the International Harvester 
Company. Aside from the memory of my own experiences, 
I have been greatly helped by references to the files of 
the Harvester World, to the Company s published annual 
statements, and to the mass of correspondence, speeches 
on Company policy, articles, etc., which exhibit the pro 
gressive growth of a constantly developing business. 

Many members of the present Harvester organization 
have helped me enormously. I wish I might name them 
all ; but it has seemed better to allow the achievements of 
to-day to remain anonymous. Some have placed at my 
disposal their own researches into the history of the busi 
ness. Others have been good enough to read my manu 
script, to restrain my exuberance for the subject, and to 
do all those thankless but friendly tasks which confront 
the critics of an amateur author. Others have given me 
pointed, but, I confess, constructive, criticisms on my 
effort as a writer of history. 

But is this history? I like to think of it rather as part of 
a living drama of I know not how many continuing scenes. 


The play tells the story of American industry and this 
narrative is a part of it- We are the actors of the moment, 
successors of those actors of the past to whose lives 
and work we owe our opportunity to serve, 

C. McC. 

CHICAGO, January i, 1931 








COMPANY 1 1 1 









INDEX 293 


From a pastel by Lawton S. Parker, about 1880 Frontispiece 


From a lithograph published about 1883 

IN 1831 10 



From a daguerreotype 




LAR DURING THE YEARS 1875-1883 64 



IN 1881 70 


From a steel engraving published by the Scientific American in 
1862 after a painting by Schussele 


From a photograph made about 1 870 







HAROLD F. McCoRMicK 140 


FRANCE, 1909 158 


TITAN 10-20 196 





CORN 220 

WEST 242 



DAY 284 




MODERN agriculture was born in Virginia on a hot July 
day in 1831. There is no written record of what took place 
on that momentous occasion. Even the exact date is lost 
in the maze of unwritten history. But on that afternoon 
Cyrus Hall McCormick demonstrated to a skeptical but 
needy world that his work was worthy. 

It is hardly to be assumed that the world beyond the 
Valley of Virginia was excited or eager, or that a huge 
crowd gathered to witness the trial of the first reaper or to 
speculate upon its future. Great events are quietly born. 
Inferentially we may guess that the inventor s parents, 
his sisters and his young brothers had driven down the 
Valley from their home. His father, who had spent so 
many years trying in vain to build a reaper, may have 
hoped for success for the boy, but he feared that the 
problem would prove insolvable. His mother stood a little 
apart, lovingly proud of her tall son whether his reaper 
worked or not, ready with comfort or praise or renewed 
encouragement. Jo Anderson was there, the Negro slave 
who, through the crowded hours of the recent weeks, had 
helped build the reaper. There were also harvesters, men 
who had been toiling in the adjacent fields and had laid 
down their scythes and sickles to come and watch the 


new-fangled wheat-cutting machine. They knew a better 
way: they could inch their way through a field of ripe 
grain, swinging forward in a long line, swinging their 
heavy blades into the tough stalks while behind them the 
binders bowed and rose and bowed again. What traffic 
should they have with a harvesting machine? They and 
the generations of their fathers before them had learned 
how to labor with their hands. 

Perhaps also there may have been a covered wagon 
passing, as a much later engraving illustrating the event 
shows, but if this was not actual, it was at least symbolic. 
Westward, beyond the sunset, lay the prairies; and those 
emigrants, who from their wagon thus casually watched 
the world s first reaper work for the first time, may well 
have carried away with them word to the empty spaces to 
prepare for a golden yield of grain. The machine which 
was to give the prairies the vigor of use was being born. 

The reaper marched through the grain. A boy rode the 
single horse. Jo Anderson walked beside it, rake in hand, 
to keep the platform clean of severed grain. And behind 
it strode the young inventor, Tall, square-shouldered, 
high of brow, purposeful, wise before his time, sensing but 
not yet seeing the future, determined, feeling the power 
of destiny within him - Cyrus Hall MeCormick paced 
after his reaper. He turned neither to the right nor left; 
he was unconscious of the little crowd or the magnificence 
of his accomplishment* He watched his reaper work. 

The hazy hills of Virginia were green with dense 
woods. Back of them were blue mountain ranges which 
even now are still the chief beauty of the Valley* To-day 
that field is almost unrecognisable. A concrete highway 
passes through it, a gasoline filling station occupies a 
corner where a side roacl leads away to Walnut Grove 
farm, and humming telegraph wires mar the primitive 


charm of the landscape. Except for John Steele s Tavern, 
part of which still stands, the rush of modern times has 
tried to blot out history; but the fact of accomplishment 
lives on. As I have stood there, the place has seemed in 
very truth a field of destiny. 

Quietly, unostentatiously, a great deed was passing into 
actuality. Big things are simple, and those deeds which 
ring in the consciousness of later generations are too fre 
quently unheralded by the times they call their own. 
Cyrus Hall McCormick s initial step into history went 
unnoticed in 1831, but it had been prepared by the subtle 
planning of unerring destiny. 

It would be a fruitless effort to seek to assess the value 
to the modern world of the great pioneer inventors who, 
by sheer force of intellect, freed men from toil and gave 
them hope. Their names are spread upon the annals of 
half a century. Many of them were so eminent that they 
would each alone have secmecl the crowning genius of an 
epoch. Their work is most significant when its results 
are considered in relation to each other and to their times, 

Stcphenson in England and Fulton in America em 
ployed the known principle of steam and made it useful 
for transportation on land and water. Morse invented the 
telegraph. McCormick built the reaper and transmuted 
farming from drudgery into efficiency. Whitney s cotton 
gin made that volume production of cotton possible 
which created a world-wide industry. Howe s sewing ma 
chine brought women relief from endless toil throughout 
civilization. Bessemer invented a process and immedi 
ately steel became available for all men. And yet we must 
admit that transportation would have remained a pleas 
ant but unnecessary luxury unless there had been grain 
and cotton to carry from the country to the city. The 
reaper would have been purposeless if industry had been 


unable to absorb the farm labor it released. Machinery in 
the modern form could not have existed but for steel. In 
truth, the elements of progress are correlated and inter 

Inventions are the product of need. That need may 
exist simply because people desire something; but it is 
prof ounder if there is a sound economic reason for its exist 
ence. Behind the great inventors of the first half of the 
nineteenth century lay the most powerful sanction of 
economic necessity. This was so to a remarkable degree 
in the case of the reaper. Before Cyrus Hall McCormick s 
time, agriculture struggled along with the same means and 
methods that were in vogue when history dawned. If the 
rest of civilization could have suddenly become modern 
while agriculture remained in the slough of inefficiency, 
the economic results would have been disastrous* 

The population of the United States, for example, was 
about thirteen million in 1831, Three-quarters of these 
people lived in the country. Sixty years later, when the 
population had risen to sixty-three million, over half of the 
people lived in the cities, and nearly twenty million peo 
ple had been assimilated into urban life who, but for the 
reaper and its heirs, would have been absolutely required 
on the farms to produce food for the multitude, Indus 
try was able to claim its share of them and to give them 
productive jobs* What if the need of the farms for labor 
had withheld them? Machine industry could not have ex 
isted; our Nation s industrial prosperity would have died 
unborn ; we could never have become strong and rich and 
materially triumphant. Farming is our basic industry, 
and, had there been a clash of interest between the cities 
and the country, the former would have had to be served. 
Men must eat; but to do so they would have had to forgo 
the benefits of industry if there had been no reaper. 


As a matter of fact, agriculture had hardly been able 
during all its history to keep abreast of the demands of ant 
increasing world population for food. Very recently we 
have seen how disaster could overwhelm Russia when the 
balance of agriculture was dislocated. In 1921, Russian 
farms were practically devoid of agricultural equipment. 
Farming had returned to the epoch of the mattock and 
the hoe. There arose differences between the interests of 
the cities and the country. The peasants stopped produc 
ing food, even for themselves. People were starving by 
millions. In our own times famine stalks through a land 
as soon as food production fails. 

Such things can happen all too easily, even without the 
confusion of political controversy. There was widespread 
famine in Europe as late as 1816. There were bread riots 
in New York in 1837. Before the development of trans 
portation, a locality which suffered from bad weather at 
the time of harvest would almost certainly face famine 
before the next winter was over : starving peasants might 
emigrate to another district if they had strength to escape, 
but, when their own fields failed them, they could not 
bring in their bread. The plagues of Egypt are a Biblical 
record of adverse climatic conditions and insufficient 
crops. Man can live without comforts and clothes and 
houses, can even continue a sort of existence without 
happiness but he must have food. Always until the 
advent of farm machinery the problem of food meant the 
wretchedness of dreary toil and the despair of uncertainty 
and fear. 

Population and famine are matters which affect the 
many, whereas labor bears directly on the individual who 
experiences it. Labor is not disheartening or degrading 
when it is worthy, but such toil as that known to Euro 
pean peasants was little better than slavery. The labor 


which free American farmers of the early nineteenth 
century performed in their fields was no less physically 
taxing. The soil was prepared with a primitive plow, 
seeding and cultivating were done by hand, reaping was 
accomplished by the sickle and the scythe, or at most by 
the cradle. Crops were produced by sunshine and by rain 
and by the straining muscles of weary men, 

To appreciate the force of the stirring circumstances 
that kept pace with Cyrus Hall MeCormick throughout 
his life, it is necessary to know that he was of Scotch-Irish 
ancestry* His blood was the same as that which dared 
to fight and suffer for the Scotch covenant of faith and 
which, transplanted to Ireland, made Ulster prosperous. 
When the British armies pursued the exiles to Ireland, a 
full half-million of them emigrated to America. Broken in 
fortune but whole in spirit, they brought with them an 
inheritance of liberty, of industry, and of conscience sym 
pathetic toward the growing ideals of the New World 

One of these Scotch-Irishmen was Thomas McCormick, 
who came to America in 1 734. His son Robert moved from 
Pennsylvania to Virginia and later fought in the War for 
Independence. Robert s son, who was to become the 
father of Cyrus, was also named Robert. In 1808, he 
married Mary Ann Hall, a true daughter of the faith- 
spurred, embattled Scotch-Irish strain. Thus Cyrus 1 an 
cestry had clone its best to prosper him by providing him 
a subconscious store of courage and faith and persever 
ance and vision such as few people have proved them 
selves worthy to hold, 

Before they were expelled from Ulster, these people 
exhibited a skill at labor that has left the north of Ireland 
prosperous even to this day. They were among the most 
industrious, moral, and intelligent groups of people in 
Britain, They were fine fanners, skilled weavers, con- 


structive builders; and when they came to America, they 
carried their arts and their tools and their energies with 
them. The first Robert McCormick was a weaver as well 
as a farmer. Patrick Hall, Mary Ann s father, was a 
leader of that strict Presbyterianism which thought that 
even hymn music was out of place in the kirk. Robert, 
the father of Cyrus, was an educated, prosperous land 
owner, who, besides his farms, operated gristmills, saw 
mills, a smelter, a distillery, and a blacksmith shop. He 
was a reader and a student, gentle but energetic, an active 
churchman, and was wide in his interests. His mechani 
cal ingenuity made him an indefatigable inventor. Also, 
perhaps, he was something of a dreamer. Cyrus mother 
was imaginative, more constructively ambitious than her 
husband; shrewd, and imbued with the typical Scotch- 
Irish desire to improve herself and the world around her. 
Cyrus inherited all these qualities from his ancestors and 
to them he added an indomitable will that transcended 
the stubbornness of his race. The Scotch-Irish inheritance 
and the characters of his mother and father were all 
blended in his being. But men to be great must acid 
something to the mental equipment with which they are 
born. These qualities in his case were : will to drive through 
the present and imagination to see through to the future. 

Cyrus Hall McCormick was born February 15, 1809, 
on the family farm, Walnut Grove, in Rockbridge County, 
Virginia. There was no public fanfare over the event, but 
the star of destiny must have been shining brightly. 
That was a great year for the world. Poe and Tennyson, 
Chopin and Mendelssohn, Darwin, Gladstone, and great 
Lincoln were born then and McCormick, if he may be 
judged by his services to humanity, is none too small a 
man to share their birth-year. 

As a boy, Cyrus went to the Old Field School. It is not 


recorded how he progressed in the Three R s, the Shorter 
Catechism, and the Bible, but there is a tale to the effect 
that he astounded his teacher by constructing an accurate 
hemispherical map of the world. When he was fifteen, he 
found that his boyish physique was insufficient to swing a 
heavy cradle in the harvest grain; so he made a smaller 
implement to suit his slight muscles. 

At eighteen, he made himself some needed surveying 
instruments. Of greater importance was his invention of 
a hillside plow, his first major contribution to modern 
agriculture. It is also certain that he was in constant at 
tendance on his father s labor in the blacksmith shop. 
Perhaps throughout his youth he felt stirring in himself 
the inquiring, earnest urge to create, which the natural 
unrestraint of life in America made possible. The great 
inventions of those times were the product of social and 
mental vigor as well as of economic necessity. 

Between 1809 and 1816, Robert McCormick made the 
first of several attempts to build a mechanical reaper. 
Like the devices of others who had interested themselves 
in the problem, his machine was pushed ahead into the 
grain by two horses and the wheat was to be thrust against 
stationary convex sickles by rapidly revolving beaters. 
Unfortunately, it utterly failed to cut the grain, so Robert 
abandoned it. At various times during the next fifteen 
years, he made other fruitless attempts to revive his 
scheme. His eldest son was informed as to his ideas and 
may have helped him prepare his last machine for its un 
successful trial in May, 1831. It actually cut some green 
wheat fairly well. But previous inventors had already 
succeeded in doing this, though no one had been able to 
handle the wheat after the cutting. Robert s machine 
flung it away from his knives in a matted tangle of straw. 
The problem was too difficult for him. 


There are many family legends how Cyrus helped his 
father with this last machine, and how, in the same year, 
1831, Robert encouraged his son toward the reaper that 
was so soon to turn a page of history. The probability, 
however, is that the younger man had little contact with 
Robert s efforts except to profit by his father s failures. 
Without question he learned from them what pitfalls to 
avoid. Robert s work inspired his son s interest in the 
problem of mechanical harvesting, and the father s fine 
craftsmanship taught Cyrus to work with tools. In the 
farm blacksmith shop he found an outlet for the ideas 
germinating within him. 

Cyrus must have started on his own machine as soon as 
he saw the evidence of his father s admitted failure. Be 
tween May and July, he conceived his own new principles, 
built one or more models, and developed a machine which 
cut grain successfully. He found within his heart the 
vigor necessary to do this colossal task inside of six short 

Without doubt his experiments were aided by the fact 
that from his boyhood he had been engaged in practical 
farming* He knew that it would serve no useful purpose 
to provide a machine that would cut grain only under 
ideal conditions. Wheat beaten down by rain or tangled 
by wind was an ever-present problem. The straw might 
be damp or dry. Harvest is a necessity dictated by Na 
ture, not a holiday planned by man. Perhaps, even, he 
was served by the fact that he was so entirely ignorant of 
previous reaper investigations in other parts of the world. 
His mind was fresh. He did not know that for years many 
men had been toiling to solve the problem of the reaper, 
or that before his time many futile reaper patents had 
been issued in England and America. He had never 
heard of Pitt s work nearly fifty years before, nor of Bell 


and Ogle, nor did he know of Manning who had already 
patented certain of the features he was to discover for 
himself and incorporate in his own machine. His sole ex 
perience was with his father s unsuccessful attempt; his 
prime asset was the power of his own tremendous will 
driving his imagination on to accomplishment* 

It is not strange that no news of these other men had 
sifted through to him. In these clays of instant and con 
stant communication, it is difficult to imagine the isola 
tion of that truly backwoods community in the Virginia 
mountains. There were no railroads, no canals, nothing 
but clay roads leading to the peopled centers of the State. 
The Scotch-Irish people of the neighborhood were self- 
sufficient in every way ; they neither knew nor cared about 
the outside world. And yet Cyrus brain had overleaped 
the blue ridges, had grappled with problems as to which 
he had only local experience, had flown out to speculate on 
a world-wide need. He had the soul of greatness within 
him, he possessed that genius which lifts the giants of 
history above the world of average men. 

He set to work in the old log blacksmith shop, cutting 
and fashioning wood and bending into shape the few iron 
pieces of the machine. His first reaper was built in six 
weeks at most. He tried it out privately in an adjacent 
wheatfiekl on the farm, with none but the members of his 
family for spectators. Becoming convinced that he was 
on the right road, he set to work feverishly to remodel it 
for a public test- The initial machine of early July had a 
straight-edged reciprocating knife actuated by gears from 
a main wheel, a platform extending sideways from the 
wheel, shafts for a single horse, an outside divider to 
separate the standing grain from that to be gathered into 
the cutter bar, and fingers to project in front of the blade. 
The late July machine had an improved divider, a better 



The shop still stands 


cutter bar provided with saw-tooth, incised serrations 
along its leading edge, and a reel to hold the grain in front 
of the knife. 

During his work Cyrus was encouraged by his mother 
who adored him and by his father who, though he may 
have despaired because of his own failure, could not but 
have thrilled as he saw his son s machine grow piece by 
piece. The boy s courage and tenacity gave him hope. 
Two particular friends watched the reaper develop. One 
of these was Colonel James McDowell, who shared 
Cyrus optimism. The other, Captain William Massie, 
was a skeptic until the success of the first trial, after which 
he became so enthusiastic that when times grew hard for 
the inventor he opened his purse to him. Most of all, the 
name of his Negro helper, Jo Anderson, deserves honor as 
the man who worked beside him in the building of the 
reaper. Jo Anderson was a slave, a general farm laborer 
and a friend. Cyrus never spared his own fine physique 
by day or by night; and the Negro toiled with him up to 
the hour of the test and after. It is pleasant to know that 
in later times, when old Jo s productive days were over, 
Cyrus or his son provided for his declining years. 

McCormick s contribution to the well-being of the 
world was real. Men needed him. However much we may 
pride ourselves on our modernity, we are still too prone to 
put our sole faith in the test of use. Even now, in spite of 
our worship of new deeds, we still let genius frighten us, 
We love to place our reliance on the tried and true methods 
other men before us have proved to be secure. We are 
served by the fact that some few men, like Cyrus Hall 
McCormick, are brave enough to look ahead and wonder. 

We of to-day pay too little attention to the work of 
those early men who labored that we may live. We wear 
too boldly the garments of experience, and fail to realize 


how much we owe to the pavSt, however unprogressive it 
may seem. Five thousand years ago in Egypt, agriculture 
was the leading industry of a civilization which was just 
dawning. The early Egyptian knew how to grow cotton 
for his clothes, and grain and legumes for his food, lie had 
found out, furthermore, how to breed plants to better 
their variety, and he understood the seasons. It is even 
possible that he had a dim perception of crop rotation. 
Doubtless he thought himself up-to-date. 

But such farm tools as he had were rudimentary in the 
extreme. Mostly, they were made of wood, for metal was 
still rare enough to be preserved for weapons or for carv 
ing stone. The first garden tool of prehistoric man was 
probably nothing more than a crooked stick with which 
he picked and hacked at the soil until it was broken and 
pulverized enough for planting* But In Egypt, some one 
had already invented the rudimentary spade or hoe, the 
familiar wood plow, and the reaping hook. When the har 
vest was ready, the Egyptian reaped his grain with the 
curved blade which some brilliant mind had discovered 
would cut so much more easily than a straight knife. The 
very first invention of an agricultural implement may 
well have been the primitive plow, which could be pulled 
through the ground by slaves or draft animals. How 
ever rudimentary it may have been, it lightened some 
what the farmer s labor- Even at that early (late, our 
ancestors were interesting themselves in finding out how 
to accomplish desired results with less effort. 

Agriculture was vital to Egyptian prosperity. There 
was little game in the surrounding desert. Cattle ancl the 
increasing numbers of a growing population had to be fed. 
The first recorded trading expeditions to the outside world 
brought back tiger skins and ostrich plumes to adorn the 
reigning sovereign, but they also brought back new plants 


for the farms of Egypt. However crude the tools of agri 
cultural production may have been, it is interesting to 
note that they were important enough in the minds of 
Egyptians to cause the adoption of both the plow and the 
reaping hook as symbols in the first alphabet. 

I well remember when one day, some twenty years ago, 
I was standing by an Egyptian obelisk trying to puzzle 
out the meaning of the ancient hieroglyphics carved on its 
granite sides. I was particularly interested in the con 
ventionalized symbol of a plow. All at once there arose a 
great clatter of straining animals and shouting men. I 
saw a team of white oxen drawing a plow, tilling the field 
around the obelisk. I looked from the fifteenth-century 
B.C. hieroglyphic to the twentieth-century A.D. plow and 
back again. They were identical: thirty- three hundred 
years had passed, but agricultural machinery had stood 
still. Egypt was preparing its soil as it had done in the 
days of the Pharaohs. A whole world of progress had 
been born in the meantime. Plato, Archimedes, Caesar, 
Galileo, Newton, Darwin, had lived and died. The West 
ern nations had passed into the most modern epoch. 
But agriculture, in Egypt at least, had remained un 
changed and unchanging while the world moved on. 

It is not necessary to look to Egypt to find examples of 
the slight growth of agriculture before 1831. The peas 
ants of Europe, even as late as the eighteenth century, 
were serfs of the soil. The fact that a mediaeval manu 
script may show an illustration of an isolated attempt to 
construct a wagon-box grain drill does not mean that men 
employed usable machinery. However much social life 
was enriched by sculptured churches or the neo-classic 
literature of the Renaissance or the songs of the trouba 
dours, or the rising political strength of England, agricul 
turists still lived a life of dreary toil. Wooden plows they 


had, but seeding, cultivating, harvesting, and threshing 
all depended on the muscular energy of two-legged beasts 
of burden called men. 

ik The primitive methods of olden times survive even to 
this day in isolated or backward communities. The Pueblo 
Indians of New Mexico and Arizona have modern plows 
and other agricultural implements, it is true, but they 
put reliance in the prayer-dances of their forefathers. 
Rice in Java and in much of China is raised by methods 
that have not changed since history began. The walls 
of irrigation terraces are built with a clumsy hoe, the 
rice is planted by hand, and it is reaped with a little 
knife as long as your finger. The Indians of our own 
Southwest and the natives of the Orient produce their 
crops mainly by trust in Nature and the muscular effort 
of bent backs. 

In all the centuries before 1831 , there had been invented 
but two new agricultural implements for harvesting, the 
scythe in the sixteenth century and the cradle in the 
eighteenth. This was a large scythe with wooden fingers 
fastened to the back of the blade in such a way that the 
cut grain fell on them and was deposited in a swath on 
the ground. The cradle was heavier than the scythe, 
and, except as certain skilled harvesters learned to swing 
it with a rhythm corresponding to the momentum of its 
weight, harder to use successfully. But the grain fell from 
it in regular rows instead of the tangled, scattered bunches 
left by the scythes; so when the binders came along they 
could make better speed. 

At the best, though, harvest was a period of drudgery, 
A long line of crouching men stooping across a field, a 
scorching sun beating on their backs, arms swinging heavy 
knives into tough grain, muscles tensing to lift and drop 
burdens, slaves of fear struggling to avert famine > this 


was what harvest labor meant to farmers before the age 
of machinery. Such heartbreaking effort was nothing 
more than sodden drudgery. Obviously, it may have been 
spiritually possible for a farmer to fix his attention so 
keenly upon bread, the object for which he was striving, 
that he could keep ahead of weariness ; but how many of 
us are mentally detached enough to forget our own mis 
eries? Labor is honorable; labor in combination with 
thought is an inspiration. But toil without hope is de 
grading, and work so exhausting that it cripples a man s 
body saps his brain as well. 

Cyrus Hall McCormick was a Virginia farmer. Such 
speculation upon the historical background of relief from 
toil lay beyond his Scotch-Irish ken. However much he 
may have realized in later life the importance of his inven 
tion, in 1831 he knew nothing more than that harvest 
labor was too hard. His was the part of striving that 
other men might rest. 

The historic little shop where he built the first success 
ful reaper is standing to-day. It is a small square log 
building on a high stone foundation. Inside is the forge, 
a littered workbench, the hewn section of a tree, and 
the old stone anvil. There is one small window, and two 
doors. The walls and ceiling are black with the smoke of 
a thousand fires. Old walnut trees stand beside the shop 
and cast their shadows impartially over the past and into 
the future. Not far away is the homestead, a chaste brick 
building with the pleasing, provincial lines of a sincere 
architecture. Tall trees hang over the house and flower 
beds surround it for Mary Ann Hall McCormick, her 
son said in later years, was a skilled gardener. Beyond 
the lawns a wide field dips down into a hollow and then 
climbs up to a wooded height. In the distance arc the 
misty summits of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In sum- 


mer, when the sun is pouring into the Valley and over the 
nodding heads of yellow wheat, the scene is very peaceful, 
very beautiful just as, doubtless, it was on that July 
day of 1831. 

That was a day when famine was ordered from the land 
and the drudgery of old agriculture was banished. But 
when I stand there after the passing of a century, my 
mind is content to dwell on the inventor, on the man. I 
am aware of the great facts that now farmers all over 
the world are directing machinery instead of spending 
muscle, and that there is bread for the multitude and a 
sure relief from famine. But as I contemplate these bene 
fits, I see a boy reach out his hand to unlock the future. 
Hope buoys him, though he is weary. Hour after hour, 
day after day, far into the night he has been working, 
carving wood and hammering iron, planning and schem 
ing, creating. Perhaps for a moment he looks up from his 
bench. Beyond the smithy window is a field of ripe grain. 
He smiles: he is ready. His reaper clatters on into his 
tory. He strides after it along the broad highway of 
service to humanity* 


THE significance of the 1831 test of the original reaper 
is not that Cyrus Hall McCormick s machine cut grain. 
Judging from the harvest standards of to-day, it is cer 
tain that it did not perform perfectly. But then, for 
the first time in all history, a mechanical reaper cut 
grain and at the same time included in its being the 
fundamental elements essential to proper harvesting. 
Whatever the present world has since added to the 
science of agricultural equipment, no modern grain- 
cutting machine can suffice without the elements around 
which Cyru$ Hall McCormick s reaper was organized. 
These essential principles were seven : 

The straight reciprocating knife, whereby the 
standing grain would be attacked by lateral motion 
as well as. by the forward movement of the machine. 
(This the inventor himself regarded as the most 
vital of the elements.) 

The fingers or guards for the knife, which sup 
ported the grain at the moment of cutting. 

The reel, which gathered the grain in front of the 
reaper and held the heads in place as the fingers 
held the stalks. 

The platform, on which the severed grain might 
fall to be raked away in a swath. 

The main wheel, directly behind the horse, which 
carried the machine and operated gears to actuate 
the moving parts. 

The principle of cutting to one side of the line of 


draft, which permitted the horse to walk on the 
stubble while the cutter bar worked in the standing 

The divider at the outer end of the cutter bar, to 
divide the standing grain from that which was to be 

In 1831 and for several years thereafter, Cyrus had 
not the slightest idea that he was not the sole and origi 
nal discoverer of every one of these cardinal elements. 
Actually he initiated them all independently and alone. 
But it is possible to find suggestions made by previous 
inventors which closely resemble individual parts of the 
McCormick machine. These prior suggestions were in 
no case parts of an operative reaper. They were theoret 
ical constructions, many of which were never tried in the 
field. In the case of six of Cyrus elements he was un 
consciously duplicating the prior discoveries of other 
inventors. The principle of the single main wheel alone 
was absolutely original with him. Nevertheless, even if 
there had been no originality in any of the seven features, 
his reaper was still a true invention. It is a well settled 
rule of patent law that an invention need actually be no 
more than a new combination of kncwn features to pro 
duce a novel and useful result and be a true discovery. 

The seven elements which were now for the first time 
included in one device were the result of that practical 
genius which we call invention. They seem simple be 
cause they are so really great. Obviously, as time wore 
on, each one of them coulcl be improved upon, and other 
principles were to be added to the list. Nevertheless, 
each one of the seven is to be found in machines that now 
harvest grain, even in the combined harvester-thresher 
of 1931. A century of progress has passed, but the 


original features live on, the old truths remain. Grain 
binders are now pulled by a tractor, where the first reaper 
was dragged along by a single horse. Their mechanistic 
speed is more than that of the first crude implement, their 
endurance is greater because of the smooth polish of 
bearings whose steel had not even been invented a short 
hundred years ago, their service is better because of 
the wider knowledge of the protagonists of modern 

Cyrus Hall McCormick would have been the first to 
admit that his reaper of 1831 was no more than a begin 
ning. To think that any invention, at any time or place, 
springs full-grown and complete from the mind of man 
is an egregious error. An inventor s second guess is 
usually better than his first; and, if he has the genius to 
conceive the first step, he must, if he is really great, have 
also the critical judgment to see wherein his work falls 
short of perfection. Thus, Cyrus was not even satisfied 
enough with his effort to patent it until 1834, nor did he 
begin to seek a market for it until 1840. 

After a journey to Kentucky in his father s interests, 
he returned to Walnut Grove in the spring of 1832 and 
set to work to improve his original reaper. With new 
fingers, an adjustable platform, and improved gearing, 
the machine again faced the ordeal of public trial at 
Lexington. But the owner of the field was not pleased 
when too much grain was knocked off and fell on the 
ground. He ordered Cyrus and his reaper off. One 
William Taylor, the owner of an adjoining stand of grain, 
pulled down the intervening rail fence and invited the 
young man to continue the demonstration. Some cradle- 
wielding laborers jeered, but during the afternoon the 
reaper harvested six acres of wheat. A school principal 
pompously announced that the reaper was worth a 


hundred thousand dollars, whereupon Cyrus dryly re 
marked that he would gladly sell it for half as much. But 
the machine was accorded the honor of exhibition in the 
courthouse square. 

The experiments continued during 1833. Cyrus built 
another, larger reaper, and with it and the 1832 model 
he cut the Walnut Grove grain as well as the wheat of 
several neighbors. His patron, McDowell, even bought 
a machine, but this may have been nothing more than a 
friendly gesture, for it was later returned. A newspaper 
article describing its success around Lexington carried 
the reaper s fame abroad* This article and certain 
farmers testimonials which were included were reprinted 
in other periodicals, even in far-away New York, For the 
first time McCormick s renown and the story of his 
accomplishment went out into the world* Even a quiet 
Virginia valley is not too distant a birthplace for the 
kind of greatness that is universal. 

The reaper was patented in 1834. It seems that Cyrus 
did not yet wish to take so conclusive a step, and he ob 
viously had no desire to seek a commercial market for a 
device which he still regarded as imperfect. But In April 
he saw in a magazine a picture of a reaper patented the 
previous autumn by Obed Hussey. Here was a rival, and 
without doubt McCormick desired to establish the fact 
of his own priority and protect his interests. So he 
applied for and was granted a patent. 

But even so, Cyrus knew that his work was by no 
means done. Farmers would write glowing testimonials 
about the reaper, but they would not buy. Friends 
sought him out to advise him to apply his active brain 
to something else. Who would have blamed him if he 
had become discouraged? He did not weaken, yet for a 
time he laid the reaper aside and gave his energy to 


assisting in the development of certain of his father s 
inventions, such as a threshing machine and a hemp- 
brake. Also, he may have resumed the promotion of his 
own early hillside plows. He had advertised and sold some 
of these as early as 1831, and it probably seemed more re 
munerative at the moment to engage in this reasonably 
sure commerce than to go on pushing the adoption of the 
reaper. As a matter of fact, the hills and valleys of his 
neighborhood made too many fields ill-suited to a reaper. 

In addition to work in the shop, he began to operate on 
his own account a farm his father had given him. He used 
his machines in his harvesting, but he had no time to 
develop them nor was he encouraged to do so. Even 
Robert grew skeptical of the commercial value of the 
reaper, and advised him to stick to the surer emoluments 
of farming. But Cyrus could not forget mechanics and 
invention. He secured the aid of his father and a neighbor 
to build a furnace and engage in making pig iron. For a 
while he prospered, but by 1839 the effects of the panic 
of 1837 bore down on his little industry. Father and son 
were wiped out in the collapse of the price of iron. Half 
of their land went to their creditors, the rest was mort 
gaged, and nothing remained but the reaper patent which 
nobody wanted. 

During these difficult years there developed a beautiful 
intimacy and a complete understanding between father 
and son. Robert s fine mind and his possibly impractical, 
speculative curiosity was transmuted in Cyrus into prac 
tical determination and constructive logic, Robert s 
reaper had been unsuccessful, whereas Cyrus cut grain. 
The young man was an energetic driver; the older was a 
dreamer who, with any other than Scotch-Irish ancestry, 
might have been a mystic. And yet, however different 
they may have been, they were glad to work side by side 


in a common cause. Because the father could not be 
sanguine of the commercial value of his son s reaper, 
Cyrus worked to perfect Robert s ideas; because Cyrus 
could not confine the active power of his mind within a 
limited field, Robert helped him into business. In later 
years when the reaper was beginning to be more of a 
success, the inventor regarded his father as something 
more than a partner. They achieved a firm friendship 
out of their relationship. When Robert died, Cyrus for 
the first time in his busy life felt the numbing shock of 
utter aloneness. 

After the pig-iron disaster, Cyrus resurrected his old 
machines and, this time under the pressure of imminent 
bankruptcy, resumed the work that was to fill his life. 
He had discovered on his own farm that the reaper s most 
serious defect was in the cutting apparatus. Now he 
turned his particular attention to the edge of the knife. 
Where the original reaper had been equipped with a knife, 
on the front edge of which serrations had been cut all 
running on the same diagonal, the machines built after 
1840 were provided with groups of serrations opposed 
one to the other that is to say, they ran to the right 
for an inch and a half, then to the left for a similar dis 
tance, then to the right, and so on. The present type of 
cutter bar, with separate, riveted-on cutting sections, 
was not developed until 1851. 

In 1840, also, Cyrus made his first real reaper sales. 
The tottering family finances made it necessary for him 
to get an income from his invention. He sold one reaper 
to a farmer who rode in from the northern part of the 
State and one to a man from the James River district. 
Yet it is on record that he also refused to sell a third 
which would have been doomed to failure because it 
would have to operate in drenched grain. The two 

From a daguerreotype 


machines sold did not work well ; so he spent the harvest 
period of 1841 in private experiments. By the next year 
he had so improved the cutting efficiency of the knife by 
changing the angle of the serrations that he was able to 
sell seven reapers in 1842. The volume of sales rose to 
twenty-nine in 1843 and to fifty in 1844. The price of the 
reaper was one hundred dollars. 

Newspaper articles began to be printed about the 
reaper and usually they were favorable to the new mech 
anism. The statement was published abroad that it 
would save half the cost of harvesting. One of McCor- 
mick s machines with eight men to bind could reap as 
much as five scythemen and ten helpers. Also, there 
was less loss through shattered grain than with the 
swinging cradle. If the machine were well made, the 
principle proved its soundness. 

All the early machines were built in the blacksmith 
shop on the Walnut Grove farm. Cyrus had no other 
factory. He not only had to supervise such workmen as 
he employed, but he must himself do any work that 
required particular care, To sell his product, he had to 
ride for miles and days over mountain roads. He had 
to learn to watch credits and supervise collections. He 
alone could secure materials, arrange for drayage to the 
nearest canal, do all those things that now require the 
services of department heads and organization. That 
was in truth the age of individualism ! 

It was also in 1843 that his famous controversy with 
Obed Hussey began. Hussey, it will be remembered, had 
been granted a patent on a reaper in 1833. He was a 
whimsical sailor whose hobby it was to work at mechani 
cal problems. It is said that a friend asked him why he 
did not make a reaper. What/ said Hussey, isn t there 
such a thing? and forthwith set out to invent one. 


When he succeeded and had patented his device, he sold 
reapers in the district around his home in Cincinnati. On 
hearing of the Hussey patent, Cyrus published a warning 
not to infringe on an already occupied field. Hussey, 
nevertheless, invaded the East, established himself at 
Baltimore, and challenged McCormick to a field test. 
The temper of the competition may be judged from a 
letter which Cyrus wrote a few years later to his brother, 
when he said, Meet Hussey in Maryland and put him 

However many reaper makers there were a few years 
later, Hussey and McCormick were then alone in the 
field. Each claimed the advantage of priority and su 
perior performance. Each bombarded the press with 
praises of his own machine and scathing comments on 
the futility of the rival device. Yet finally when they 
met the result was inconclusive, Hussey s reaper was 
smaller and would not operate in wet grain. McCor- 
mick s was manifestly stronger, but broke clown when he 
became too sanguine of its ability to perform unnecessary 
tasks. They both finished the test, and the judges de 
cided narrowly in favor of McCormick. Spectators 
stated, however, that Hussey s machine was simpler, 
which may very well have been true, since it was not 
equipped with the essential features of the reel and 
divider. It was really the progenitor of the modern 

Subsequent investigation proved Hussey s patent to 
be sound and not in conflict with McCormick s. Many 
years later, when he had retired from competition, he 
won damages for an infringement against the shape of his 
finger guards. Hussey s reaper was more of a factor in 
newspaper debate than in the field, but for a long time 
he pursued Cyrus and annoyed him with charge and 


countercharge. But however bitter a critic Hussey was, 
he was an honest old warrior. He invariably refused to 
equip his reaper with a reel because he had not himself 
invented one. He opposed Cyrus patents frantically, 
but when he heard the incontrovertible evidence of the 
public exhibitions of 1831 and 1832, he startled the exam 
iners by flatly admitting his rival s priority. 

In those early days of American business, competition 
meant warfare to the bitter end. There was no quarter 
given or expected. Men fought for their rights or lost 
them. Hussey was a picturesque debater, but he was no 
business man. He sold a certain number of his ma 
chines, particularly along the Atlantic seaboard, and 
he even competed abroad in later years. But he could 
never stand against the business genius which Cyrus was 
soon to add to his inventive faculty. 

The early inventors are hardly to be blamed for so 
bitterly contesting each advantage they could claim. 
They were so much alone, they had so much to do, and 
the commercial prize ahead of them seemed so limited. 
McCormick had one great quality Hussey did not share : 
he had vision to see far beyond the horizon of Virginia. 
In 1844, he sold reapers in New York, Tennessee, Ohio, 
Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri, as well as 
in his home country. The West was calling and he 

As soon as the Virginia harvest of that year was over, 
the inventor decided to investigate for himself the West 
ern States from which the unexpected business was trick 
ling in. He traveled to New York, and then on through 
Wisconsin, Illinois, into Missouri, and back to Ohio. He 
was astounded at the expanse of wide fields he saw, so 
different from the narrower valleys of his home. His 
imagination was challenged. He wrote to his family 


that reapers were luxuries in Virginia, but were necessi 
ties in Ohio, Illinois, and on the great plains of the West. 
He understood immediately that inland Virginia would 
never do as a center from which to distribute his machines 
to farms along the Mississippi River. From Indiana he 
wrote, *It seems wrong to pay $20 or $25 freight... 
when they might be made in the West considering, 
too, the greater uncertainty of shipping/ 

He began immediately to contemplate the thought of 
moving his entire business to some place in the West, He 
did not have to look back many years to the time when 
men of his own kind, Scotch- Irish pioneers, had moved 
across the frontier and out into the wilderness. What 
they had done in their field of endeavor, he could do in 
his. They had battled with the unknown to return and 
bring back with them tales of virgin soil and unlimited 
horizons. He and his reaper could follow in aid of the 
brave settler-crusaders who had pressed on into the 
plains just behind the explore. 

In preparation for the ultimate move to Chicago, he 
went to Brockport, New York, on the Eric Canal, and 
sold a license to manufacture reapers to Seymour and 
Morgan. He sent his brother Leander, now a young man 
of twenty-eight and able to fit himself into the growing 
business, to Cincinnati after making a similar contract. 
This enlarged production allowed a greater volume of 
sales; so he himself and such county agents as he had 
appointed sold 123 machines in 1845, The next year 
his sales mounted still further. In 1847, he moved to 

In the meantime his interest in improving his machine 
had never waned. It had passed the experimental stage 
in that the reaper would unquestionably cut grain suc 
cessfully. He secured two other patents, one in 1845 and 


one in 1847, and the wooden implement of the thirties 
became McCormick s Patent Virginia Reaper, a two- 
horse machine with a wider cut and a seat at the side 
whereon the raker sat as he worked. In 1848, he applied 
for an extension of his original patent. 

It will be remembered that the original McCormick 
patent was granted in 1834. This patent ran for fourteen 
years, but as no attempt had been made to exploit it 
even in a small way until 1840, the inventor had enjoyed 
no more than eight years of protection. During that 
time, he testified in the patent hearing which followed, 
he had sold 778 machines at a profit of $20 each and had 
disposed of territorial sales rights for a total gross profit 
of $22,643. But the Brockport licensees, Seymour and 
Morgan, felt that their profits would be larger if the ex 
tension were refused and the patent was free ; and they 
had strong political influence. They fostered a cleverly 
organized counter-campaign of farmer publicity. 

The story of the patent battle which followed would 
fill a volume. Hussey and McCormick were again 
aligned against each other; patent attorneys wrote to 
farmers to rise against the royalty charge of the reaper 
monopoly; the farm press was filled with columns of 
arguments; petitions were circulated indiscriminately. 
The patent board rejected McCormick s application, and 
it was said that his invention was of too much value to 
the public to remain in private hands. He caused the 
matter to be taken to Congress, where the case became a 
can^e c&ttbre. An anti-McCormick lobby was organized, 
public opinion in New York was fostered by the Brock- 
port manufacturers, and the farmers of the country were 
said to be up in arms. Ultimately, the patent extension 
was denied; so McCormick lost, just as he was to lose 
almost all of the many lawsuits in which he engaged. He 


emerged without protection from the patent laws, but 
the debate had established clearly the fact of his priority 
as the original inventor and it had put the stamp of 
governmental approbation on the economic value of his 

History has since proved that the patent-extension 
battle was futile. McCormick pushed on to success with 
out the protection he thought was essential ; the Brock- 
port manufacturers had gained the right to make reapers, 
but they were not able enough to exercise it widely. He 
knew how to organize an invention Into a business and 
they did not. He possessed the creative genius to find 
ways of making the reaper available for all farmers. 

To remove to Chicago in those clays necessitated the 
stern courage of the frontier fighter. The raw little city 
in the swamps by Lake Michigan had in 1847 a popula 
tion of only seventeen thousand. Land values had col 
lapsed after an early boom, and a welter of mud and dis 
ease made the town appear ridiculous to its neighbors. 
There were few paved streets, the houses were frame 
shacks, there were nothing but broken plankroads 
through the swamps to the surrounding land, and the 
harbor was obstructed by sandbars. But Chicago was 
the center of a great area of rich land, a canal to the west 
was about to be opened, and immigrants were flocking in. 
It had little to offer in the way of material comfort, but 
it was a city of opportunity. 

Among the several firms which McCormick had 
licensed to build reapers was Gray and Warner, of Chi 
cago, manufacturers of cradles. For a time Gray became 
his partner and together they built five hundred ma* 
chines for the harvest of 1848, Then Gray quarreled 
with McCormick over the terms of the partnership and 
sold out to William B. Ogden, that great pioneer of early 


Chicago, and W. E. Jones. The firm name was McCor- 
mick, Ogden & Company. Ogden was rich for those days, 
and his confidence in the future of Chicago and the West 
was unbounded. But he also possessed a strong tempera 
ment, too strong to harmonize with the fiery zeal of 
McCormick s nature. Also, the one was absorbed in his 
reaper, while the other had wide interests in every activ 
ity that touched Chicago. By 1849, they agreed amicably 
to disagree, and McCormick bought the Ogden and 
Jones half of the business for $65,000, Fifteen hundred 
machines had been sold that year and he had made 
enough money to pay so large a price: already, at forty 
years of age, the Virginia farmer boy had become a cap 
tain of young industry. 

Some have said that Cyrus Hall McCormick was a 
lucky speculator who rode to success on the wave of 
energy that developed the West. This was the point 
of view of jealous English competitors. Americans have 
accorded him the honor of making the development of 
the West possible. 

So long as the reaping hook and the cradle were the 
instruments of agricultural production, the yield of the 
fields was limited to the amount of labor available. Be 
fore the reaper, a scytheman could with infinite toil 
harvest barely two or three acres of grain each day. In 
1845, Ohio and Pennsylvania were the leading wheat 
States* The West was still remote and isolated. Illinois 
was raising five million bushels of wheat each year, but 
its own consumption, plus its exportable surplus, was 
far less than that. Because of lack of labor, much of the 
crop could not be harvested and was given over to cattle 
and hogs turned in to feed on golden wheat. 

After 1849, the rumor of the discovery of gold in Cali 
fornia made matters worse. Thousands left the East to 


make the long journey overland in search of easy riches. 
Commodity prices rose in reaction to the new supply of 
bullion and such laborers as remained drew double wages. 
The farmers of the Middle West, cut off as yet from easy 
rail transportation, were helpless. The reaper appeared 
at the eleventh hour and allowed them not only to pro 
duce wheat for a rapidly expanding population, but, by 
substituting machinery for expensive or non-existent 
labor, to reduce the cost of their production and live 

| McCormick was quick to see what the discovery of 
California gold meant for him. Where he might easily 
himself have followed the prairie road into the setting 
sun, he preferred to pin his faith to another golden future, 
the future of wheat. He preferred to see himself a partner 
of those men who would not be lured away and of those 
sons of theirs who, in future generations when there was 
no more gold in California, would be harvesting the 
world s bread all through the prairies of the West. He 
spread advertisements abroad predicting a shortage of 
farm labor and telling how his reaper would relieve that 
problem. While his brothers attended to the little brick 
factory by the Chicago River, he rode endlessly over the 
plains, spying out the homes of future farmers and 
preaching the gospel of the reaper. He knew no rest, no 
ease. He was experiencing the cost of service to an ideal. 
But, after all, when have Scotch- IrLshmen ever counted 
the cost? They were driven to Ulster for their faith. 
They were driven thence to America, and took with them 
the hard-working zeal which was the foundation-stone 
of their prosperity. In America they sought the fron 
tier and all its trials. They conquered the wilderness by 
their ability. Doubtless they did not appreciate the full 
destiny of their pioneering, but whatever of it they saw, 


they did. Cyrus Hall McCormick drew from his blood 
his courage, his stubborn tenacity, and his native ability. 
He added thereto an unbounded force of will that leaped 
at obstacles whenever they appeared, and the clear vision 
of imagination that saw beyond each barrier a prize. 

He was a product of sterling inheritance and the dy 
namic compulsion of new times. The eighteenth century 
had vanished, individualism was beginning to be bruited 
abroad, submerged peoples and personalities were stir 
ring. The millions who had been toiling were somehow 
feeling the influence of new democracy. Democracy was 
born in the American War for Independence and grew up 
in Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century. It 
flourished robustly in the United States because the 
country was free and new. Even to-day Americans are 
young enough to tolerate experiments. 

People have lived through stirring times during the 
last hundred years. Wars have continued because we 
have not quite been able to free ourselves from outworn 
methods and bygone rules of conduct. But we have ad 
vanced. We have used such advantage as we might gain 
from five thousand years of history ; and we are conscious 
of a wider horizon and an unfettered thought. Many men 
are now able to try to develop new ideas where formerly 
only a few had the vision to do so. Many men have 
claimed the right to become individuals instead of a 
pathetic few. We of the younger generation speak of 
modernism and try to explain it and defend it. What we 
really mean is that the nineteenth century taught the 
twentieth to think for itself. 

The whole sphere of political science has been restudied 
in the light of experimental democracy. In the nine 
teenth century the entire field of economics was plowed 
almost for the first time. Intellectual and social worth 


developed amazingly in reaction to the dimly seen hope 
of relief from toil Soon men would no longer have to 
break their hearts in the fields and in tiny shops : the 
dawn would break as soon as machinery could be devised 
to lighten labor. New thoughts were beginning to stir in 
the minds of those few teachers who could show the many 
how to use their minds instead of their muscles. The 
stage of free events was set for Cyrus Hall McCormick 
and the great men of his time. They were to make the 
twentieth century possible by their vigorous leadership, 
their organizing ability, their grand succession of new 
practices and new thought, and their radiating glamour 
of success. They shattered every old manner of life. 
They made a new world wide and fine enough for the 
unleashed power of modern times. 


CYRUS HALL McCoRMiCK invented the reaper and thus, 
out of an undying service to humanity, achieved fame 
enough for any man. The reaper is his chief claim to 
recognition in the eyes of posterity. But until recent 
years it was not sufficiently recognized that, even at its 
inception, the invention bore within its loins the seeds, 
not only of modern agriculture, but of modern industry 
as well. 

Freedom from almost universal slavery to the soil had 
to be achieved before man could liberate himself from 
the narrow limitations which hand labor set upon his 
other occupations. McCormick made relief possible. 
He must also be acclaimed as one of the inventors of 
modern business and of the benefits it has brought to the 
factory worker and to the consuming public. He was a 
pioneer of mass production and of waste-saving methods 
of manufacture. He conceived of utterly unheard-of 
means of mass distribution such as advertising, public 
demonstration, and warranty of product. His com 
petitors thought him visionary. When he put into prac 
tice certain schemes, since fundamental to the sale of 
agricultural implements, such as credit to his customers, 
his friends predicted his certain downfall. But he forged 
ahead, and his business, founded on the same determined 
vision that produced the reaper, was to live after him. 

How grandly McCormick wrought during the latter 
half of his life to accomplish this will become apparent 
when one remembers that, just as he began to be effective 
as a manufacturer, he was deprived of patent protection. 


Instead of facing the world with a secure monopoly at 
his back, he saw a horde of competitors rising up on every 
side to meet him with copies of his own device. A 
McCormick reaper, he had a right to fear, would per 
form just as satisfactorily under any other name. Sey 
mour and Morgan, his former licensees, had led the battle 
against the extension of his 1834 patent. They had man 
ufactured many of the reapers that had been built; and 
now that the field was open to the public, they were hard 
at work producing duplicates of McCormick s machine. 
Hussey, also deprived of his own patent protection, was 
still in the field and had not yet yielded to McCormick. 
William F. Ketchum, who was later to lead the early 
mower world, was obtaining patents and building ma 
chines. The Fountain brothers and H. F. Mann were 
placing on the market McCormick reapers to which their 
own devices had been added. Altogether there were by 
the end of 1850 at least thirty reaper firms which had 
taken the basic principles of McCormick s invention as a 
starting-point and were seeking to add something new. 
Each year new manufacturers were springing up who 
were building copies or adaptations of the Virginia 
reaper- The prospect was not pleasant for a man who 
knew that his was the original invention and bitterly 
resented the fact that an unkind government had denied 
him further protection just when his patent rights were 
beginning to be valuable. 

In connection with his application for a patent exten 
sion, McCormick testified in 1848 that all told he had 
built no more than 778 reapers, including 500 made with 
Gray in Chicago in 1848. Fifteen hundred were built in 
1849 during the Ogden partnership. Small as such quan 
tities may seem, they gave him a long lead over his com 
petitors which he was never to relinquish. He bequeathed 


to his successors a start that kept them in the supreme 
position he had won and yet he did this without patent 

There remains an illuminating letter written to him in 
1859 by his beloved brother William on the event of the 
refusal of the patent commissioners to extend his second 
patent. William understood his elder brother better than 
any other man and, out of his rare prescience, was able to 
value correctly the real basis of his success. He wrote, 
Your money has been made not out of your patents but 
by making and selling the machines/ Cyrus business 
continued to grow in the face of free and widespread com 
petition, not because of his genius as an inventor, which 
could now be drawn upon by all and sundry desiring to 
copy him, but because of his skill, his boldness, and his 
business acumen. Alone among the inventors of his 
period, he was able to create a business. 

Cyrus Hall McCormick was to become the leading 
industrialist of his generation. In a day before the birth 
of anything resembling a factory system, his prophetic 
vision recognized the need for a factory of his own. It is 
related that he raged at the damage both to his own 
reputation and to farmers 7 crops caused by the inefficient 
operation of a poorly built reaper thrown together regard 
less of quality by one of his licensed manufacturers. Ever 
conscious of the harvest needs of his farmer customers, 
he knew his reaper could not succeed unless the same 
ideals of service which he had adopted as his creed were 
built into it. Therefore, after he was free from the limi 
tations imposed on his aggressive temperament by the 
partnerships of 1848 and 1849, he preferred to forge 
ahead by himself. As soon as existing licensing agree 
ments expired, he saw to it that every McCormick 
machine was built in his own factory. There he could 


dominate and so be assured that his experience-bred 
demands for high quality would be met. 

If the 1831 reaper was but a crude affair compared 
with his later models, the first Chicago shop was no more 
than a pale foreshadowing of the factories he was later 
to organize. But as the original reaper won the plaudits 
of the observers who watched it, so the factory of 1848 
was remarkable in the eyes of those who saw in it the 
beginning of Chicago s industry. A reporter for a Chicago 
paper wrote of the little shop : 

It is situated on the north side of the river near the piers [it 
stood some three hundred feet east of the north cud of the 
present Michigan Avenue Bridge] and is a well-fmivshed brick 
building, 100 feet by 30 or over and three stories high. Attached 
to the main building is a building containing a steam engine, 
lathes for turning iron, and also a building containing six 
forges. There are 33 hands employed in the factory, ten of 
whom are blacksmiths. . . . The engine drives some fourteen or 
fifteen machines; viz. a planing machine, two circular saws, 
a tenent saw, a lathe for turning handles for rakes, pitch 
forks, etc.; also two lathes for turning iron, a gage s patent die, 
two morticing machines and two grindstones. Machines are 
being set up for various other uses in several branches of car 
penter s work We understand the proprietors design en 
larging [the smithy] as it is at present too contracted for the 
wants of the factory. 

A wood reaper hewn out by machines for various 
other uses in several branches of carpenter s work 7 has 
become a steel machine speeding along behind a tractor : 
the thirty-three hands have become six thousand work 
men : the little steam engine that was the pride of young 
Chicago is now a humming electric generator; the fifteen 
machine tools have become eleven thousand, Yes, 
McCormick Works has grown ! 

The growth began immediately. By the end of 1849 


the main building had been extended to a length of one 
hundred and ninety feet. There were three planing 
machines, six saws, nine lathes, three boring machines, 
and sixteen forges. A hundred and twenty men were at 
work. There were riverside docks for unloading materials 
from lake schooners and for shipping finished reapers. In 
1851 , a fire destroyed a large part of the old main building 
and a new four-story wing was erected. Machinery * of 
the latest design was installed. After the reconstruction, 
a reporter of the Chicago Daily Journal visited the factory 
and wrote an article on The Magic of Machinery/ which 
I quote from Professor Hutchinson s account of those 
early days : 

An angry whirr, a dronish hum, a prolonged whistle, a shrill 
buzz and a panting breath such is the music of the place. 
You enter little wheels of steel attached to horizontal, up 
right and oblique shafts, are on every hand. They seem motion 
less. Rude pieces of wood without form or comeliness are 
hourly approaching them upon little railways, as if drawn 
thither by some mysterious attraction. They touch them, and 
presto, grooved, scalloped, rounded, on they go, with a little 
help from an attendant, who seems to have an easy time of 
it, and transferred to another railway, when down comes a 
guillotine-like contrivance, they are morticed, bored, and 
whirled away, where the tireless planes without hands, like a 
boatswain, whistle the rough plank into polish, and it is turned 
out smoothed, shaped, and fitted for its place in the Reaper or 
the Harvester. The saw and the cylinder are the genii of the 
establishment. They work its wonders and accomplish its 
drudgery. But there is a greater than they. Below, glistening 
like a knight in armor, the engine of forty-horse power works as 
silently as the little wheel 7 of the matron; but shafts plunge, 
cylinders revolve, bellows heave, iron is twisted into screws 
like wax, and saws dash off at the rate of forty rounds a second, 
at one movement of its mighty muscles. But there is a greater 
still than this. There by the furnace fire, begrimed with coal 
and dust, decorated with an apron of leather, instead of a 


ribbon of satin, stands the one who controls nay, who can 
create the whole. 

The factory beside the Chicago River kept on growing. 
In 1856, it had a producing capacity of forty reapers each 
day and actually made four thousand that year. In 
1859, when it had passed its tenth birthday, there was 
a total floor area of 110,000 square feet. Leander J. 
McCormick, a younger brother of Cyrus, was the plant 
superintendent. There were four foremen of the wood, 
metal, foundry, and repair departments. Three hundred 
men worked a ten-hour day for a wage of from one 
dollar to two dollars per day. The manufacturing pro 
gram for the season consumed 371,000 feet of ^ lumber, 
48,776 pounds of cast steel, 62,500 feet of iron chain, 
661 tons of wrought iron, 942 tons of pig iron, 170,000 
pounds of malleable iron finger guards, 90,000 pounds of 
tin, copper, and sheet zinc, and 437 tons of coal. 

An industry of such scope would seem pathetically 
small to-day; but in its infant stature there lay the 
promise of gigantic proportions in the future. Also, 
compared with what had gone before, this factory was 

Previous to this and other American factories, the 
world s sole effort at anything resembling industrializa 
tion lay with British spinners. In the eighteenth cen 
tury, a home industry equipped with fireside looms had 
been suddenly, rudely, metamorphosed into a factory 
system by the invention of spinning-mill machinery. 
The picturesque inefficiency of high-cost hand looms gave 
place to squalid, crowded, degrading shops. Machine 
looms were necessary to progress, but progress was 
slowed by the turmoil caused by the oppression meted 
out by inexperienced capitalists to caste-ridden villagers 
viciously turned into slaves of the machine. Working- 


men smashed the new labor-saving machinery. They 
thought their jobs were being destroyed. No one was 
wise enough as yet to realize that machinery would not 
only reduce cost, but actually mean more work and a 
greater purchasing power through widespread and higher 
wages. But no such economic cycle was ever heard of 
until within the years of American industrial progress. 
Even in this country no clear understanding of it has 
existed until the most recent quarter-century. It has 
been left for modern America to garner the economic 
fruits of true industrialism. 

Industry began when some early man became so 
skilled at making stone axes or flint arrowheads that he 
undertook to produce them for his neighbors as well as for 
himself. As soon as his trade grew enough to warrant a 
helper, organization came into being. But there the 
growth of industry stopped. In all their experience, 
neither the luxurious Egyptians nor the wise Greeks nor 
the rich Romans nor the monks of the Middle Ages nor 
the princes of the Renaissance created out of their man 
ner of living enough of a demand to bring more of a fac 
tory system into existence than the artisan and his own 
few apprentices. 

As material production increased in response to an 
increasing population s demand for necessities and lux 
uries, certain men naturally acquired skill in making 
articles for sale. Their products were sought after for 
their intrinsic worth. They made the things that were 
asked for, and when a new demand came into being, they 
invented new articles. It must, for example, have created 
a stir in early military circles when some smith produced 
the earliest protective armor; and the carpenter who 
first devised a chair must have been famous. The theory 
of organization that accompanied primitive production 


did not advance until the Middle Ages, when trade guilds 
were devised to supplant the slavery of pagan days. But 
even when the discovery of new portions of the globe 
gave so great an impetus to human vision, business 
methods did not change greatly. The stock company was 
invented in the sixteenth century, thus permitting the 
ownership of commerce and industry to be diversified; 
yet the actual conduct of business went on pretty much 
as before so far as methods and management were con 
cerned. Production still remained in the hands of a few 
skilled men who divided their time between work with 
their own hands and such instruction as they provided 
for student apprentices. These last were learning to 
acquire the art of their trade and would become the 
artisans of the future. 

It was the individualism fostered by the guild system 
that caused ancient production to be so very worth while 
in its results. Benvenuto Cellini may be an outstanding 
example of the ability of labor to produce beauty, but 
there were countless other men in whom stirred the spirit 
of creativeness. A master workman acquired a reputa 
tion for excellence; apprentices were drawn to him by his 
fame in his profession; they grew up in the tradition of 
his skill; and, as invariably happens, the quality of one 
effort was improved when intelligence carried it on into 
the next. An apprentice toiling to chisel out a silver 
gob!et or weave velvet or carve a piece of fine furniture 
could see his work develop from day to day. It was 
necessary for him to understand what results he was 
trying to accomplish and to believe in his work. He could 
scan in his own hands the whole progression of manu 
facture and therein could control his own career. He 
developed as his work advanced. It is not necessary to 
assume that every product of such a system of business 


was beautiful or that every worker was endowed with 
outstanding ability. Men were probably pretty much of 
an average then as now some good, some medium, 
some bad. The truth was that the old guild system 
allowed such brains as men possessed to develop in the 
most individual manner. The surprising thing is that 
this individualism did not produce more inventions. 

That it failed to do so was due to the conditions of life 
rather than to the state of business organization. Even a 
method that allowed workmen to become artists could 
not cause them to develop beyond surrounding circum 
stances. The horizon of fifteenth-century Europe hardly 
overpassed the two ends of the Mediterranean. As soon 
as the Western Hemisphere was discovered and a road 
was found to the East Indies, men s imaginations flared. 
Yet even when young America was brought into being, 
the older commercial methods remained in force. One 
thing alone brought about a change; the inventions which 
were the birth of modernism in industry. 

I do not assert that factories in 1850 were more than 
the seed from which modern American business has 
grown. But I see in them all, and in Cyrus Hall McCor- 
mick s reaper factory in particular, the root of what we 
do to-day. Later I shall have more to say of present-day 
production. For the present, let it be assumed that the 
American manufacturing system depends, among other 
things, upon standardization and mass production. Mass 
production includes the ordered progress of a part in 
process of manufacture from the raw material stage 
through one machining operation after another and so 
into the various steps of assembly. These two elements 
of mass production were devised in Cyrus Hall McCor- 
mick s factory just as surely as he invented and produced 
the first reaper. 


Consider what the Chicago Journal reporter observed in 
1851. He wrote of materials approaching their destination 
on little railways/ apparently on a definite schedule; of 
transfer mechanism to handle material from one conveyor 
system to another ; and of the ordered succession of wood 
working operations. Each of these statements is an indi 
cation of rudimentary mass production. Furthermore, 
this journalist of long ago stated that the attendant 
seemed to be having an easy time of it. This effortless 
type of man-labor is the very essence of mass production, 
where tireless mechanism substitutes for the heavy work 
that used to make a man strain at his toil. Mass pro 
duction depends much on mind and little on muscle, and 
it would seem that this fact had been discovered by the 
inventor of the reaper. In subsequent years many special 
machine tools were devised in his enlarged Chicago 
factories, all designed to reduce production cost to a 
minimum. Doubtless his employees and not he himself 
conceived them. He inspired them. 

As for standardization of parts, a Chicago Tribune 
reporter wrote in 1859, A farmer of Illinois or Missouri 
who, in an earlier year bought a machine, has only to 
mention the part he wishes duplicated, with the year of 
his purchase, and from the "Repair Room" the pattern 
maker or the foundryrnan takes his pattern and fills the 
order promptly/ This quotation teaches an interesting 
lesson on the function of rendering service which now, 
seventy years later, is so proudly stressed in the adver 
tising of every company that sells a mechanical product 
to the public. It also suggests that in the early McCor- 
mick Reaper Works there was an acute understanding of 
the interchangeability of parts, which is popularly sup 
posed to have originated among the makers of auto 


There seems to be one way only of accounting- for 
McCormick s mastery over manufacturing problems. 
His commercial mentality, originally mechanical, had 
to clothe itself with a salesman s enthusiasms. But before 
selling, he had to conquer an entirely undeveloped field 
of manufacturing endeavor and pioneer a way toward 
modern production methods. He did so because of his 
unbending insistence upon that dearest ally of a salesman 
quality. He preached quality to his factory men until 
it was engraved on their hearts. In modern parlance, he 
sold them quality so well that they understood the 
necessity for it and therefore believed in it. Each year 
the McCormick reaper became heavier, stronger, better: 
each year it gained more favor with the farmers. My 
father has told me how he used to hear his father say, I 
don t want to make my entire profit from a single sale 
I want to make the machines so good that the farmer and 
his sons will come back again and again to buy more 
McCormick machines. A common statement among 
salesmen was, This reaper is so strong that you can hitch 
your team to it, go anywhere the Lord permits, and the 
machine will do its work. 

The most spectacular part of modern industry is its 
manufacturing efficiency. The science that underlies 
mass production has grown from such small beginnings 
as McCormick s factory on the Chicago River, with its 
five stories and its three hundred men, until now it is the 
familiar genius of those who would produce their thou 
sands of articles per day. But manufacturing skill is 
not the whole of industry. Even in his earliest days in 
Virginia, Cyrus Hall McCormick was exploring other 
foundations of modern business. 

The first advertisement of the reaper appeared in 1833 
in the Lexington Union. From time to time until 1835, 


McCorrnick published notices of it and also of his hillside 
plow. These early documents are interesting merely as 
indicating that the system of advertising and propaganda 
he devised after his move to Chicago had a contemporary 
root in the mental energy and imaginative vision that 
produced the reaper. Once he had invented his machine, 
he was foreordained to forge ahead to its manufacture. 
The business which he was to develop was to be a well- 
rounded whole, to include both the reaper and the genesis 
of the organization methods which to-day T s generation 

After 1840, McCormick and his machine were naturally 
of much concern to the press of Virginia. By 1845, he was 
publishing long advertisements in the farm papers of 
Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, and northern New York. 
As his interest in the West increased and he began to 
withdraw his activities from the Atlantic seaboard, the 
Virginia newspapers turned their attention to Hussey, 
But, though he lost their praise, McCormick knew his 
destiny was bound up with the prairies. 

The reaper advertisements of the middle century now 
seem nai ve in the extreme, but that is only because we 
of this generation are accustomed to see our publicity 
couched in the modern style. In May, 1849, for example, 
McCormick, Ogden & Company published a handbill 
with a picture of a team of sleek horses at the top trotting 
along with a reaper in tow, A blithe boy cracks a whip, a 
waistcoatcd gentleworker in a top hat leans forward 
gracefully in his seat and rakes the severed grain from the 
platform. The text speaks of abundant crops to conic, 
the labor shortage due to emigration to California, and 
the need of placing an early order before the supply 
should be exhausted. The reaper is now believed to be 
complete and unexceptionable in construction and cer- 




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tain to give still greater satisfaction to all in their opera 
tion than ever before/ A list of reaper agents is added. 
The lower half of the circular is filled with an elabo 
rately worded round-robin testimonial of satisfactory 
mechanical and money-saving performance signed by 
farmers throughout Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and 

If any one questions why I see in such an advertise 
ment, spread abroad in a world that knew so little of 
organized publicity, the genesis of modern advertising, 
let him consider a moment: The reaper and its trotting 
team are a small automobile made to seem large by a 
draftsman s art; the smiling boy and the raker with 
his top hat are the modishly dressed family group out 
for a self-satisfied motor airing; the prediction of farm 
prosperity is the same as that urge to buy which makes us 
want refrigerators and radios and encyclopaedias; the 
mechanical perfection of the reaper is similar to the last 
word of style or design that compels us to buy Blank s 
product, whatever it may be. The farmers testimonials 
are the 1849 model of a society leader s purchased assur 
ance that her complexion could not survive without such 
and such soap. And as for simplicity why, the Ma 
chines will all be so numbered and marked with paint, 
showing the connection of the different parts one with 
another that they can readily be put together by the 

McCormick added one element to his advertising cam 
paign which is indicative of the fine assurance with which 
he regarded his own work. As early as 1842, when for the 
first time he began to be really satisfied with his inven 
tion, he gave his customers an absolute guaranty of satis 
factory performance or the return of their money. Obvi 
ously the satisfaction must be measured in terms of that 


day, not of this. The performance of the early reaper was 
in harmony, not with the twentieth-century usage, but 
with the untrained wants of the farmers of former days. 
Farmers now are more experienced and want more. But 
the reapers of that day suited that day s farmers, and 
they suited the pride of Cyrus Hall McCormick. In 1852, 
he published this grand challenge to the world : I warrant 
them superior to Hussey s and to all others. I have a 
reputation to maintain. Let a farmer take both and keep 
the one which he likes best/ What has the twentieth 
century added to such confidence in the high quality of 
the service your product is ready to perform? 

Field tests of competitive reapers were continually 
organized. It will be remembered how McCorrnick 
ordered his brothers to meet Hussey in Maryland and 
put him down. 1 The trials increased in number as more 
competitors came into the field; but, by the same token, 
the reliability of their results decreased. A poor patch of 
grain would defeat a worthy entrant, some one would 
appear with a specially built machine, a local gladiator 
would win favor with the local judges. There was a six- 
day test at Geneva, New York, in 1852, when BurraU s 
reaper and Manny s mower won. Densmore s reaper and 
Ketchum s mower carried off the honors at Springfield, 
Ohio. There followed a war of letters led by McCormick. 
He and his rivals occupied columns of newspaper space. 
He proved by statistics that he should have won and 
issued ringing challenges for next year s harvest. It is 
perhaps significant that he went on selling as many ma 
chines as all of his competitors together. 

There was nothing of the subtlety of modern advertis 
ing in these documents proclaiming the relative merits of 
the early machines ; and one can hardly call the style of 
the long letters in the press restrained. Competitors hit 


straight from the shoulder, they damned each other with 
out mercy, they called Heaven to witness their own per 
fection. They spoke the florid language of the day the 
same language which, in the Nation s young diplomatic 
correspondence, caused so many sneers among the chan 
celleries of polished Europe and produced such unequi 
vocal results. America was growing up. America was 
inventing things of which Europe had never dreamed. 
Americans liked an amusing controversy. The reaper 
polemics appealed to their native humor. They clamored 
for more debate and the publicity paid. McCormick 
led all the others in pungent argument. Advertising, like 
the reaper, was developing under the touch of his creative 

Advertising pronunciamentos and lengthy disputes in 
the columns of the papers were meat and drink to the 
inventor-turned-business-man. He loved to debate and 
he never wearied of extolling the merits of his reaper. 
Writing of this kind he could do himself; but, as soon as 
the production of the Chicago factory became impressive, 
he could no longer travel through the country as had been 
his wont, pockets full of order blanks and handbills, and 
himself take orders. The volume of his business was now 
enough to require executive attention. McCormick and 
his brothers had time to do no more than take an occa 
sional trip through the wheat lands, excursions which 
served as a vacation to country-bred men tied by force 
of circumstances to an office. They perforce appointed 
deputies to do the actual selling. 

The first official traveling representative was a cousin, 
J. B. McCormick, who after 1845 roved up and down the 
lower Ohio valley and into Tennessee and Missouri. In 
1848, the first regular traveling agents were appointed 
as territorial supervisors. H. G. Hubbard, A. G. Hager, 


and J. L. Wilson were the earliest forerunners of the great 
army of traveling implement salesmen who now encircle 
the globe. The main function of these pioneers was to 
represent the home office in appointing and supervising 
the local agents who were the direct approach to the 
farming public. 

The duties of the local agents were not very different 
from what they are to-day. Their contract provided that 
they should maintain a sample machine, canvass the 
wheat districts in the territory assigned to them, deliver 
reapers and instruct purchasers in their operation, stock 
spare parts, be prepared to do repair work and render 
field service, make reports, collect money due on notes, 
and distribute advertising. They often operated through 
sub-agents, country blacksmiths or general storekeepers, 
who may perhaps be considered the first farm implement 
retailers. Rules of procedure were laid down for them, but 
these they broke with impunity if by so doing they could 
advance the MeCormick cause. They were supplied with 
sales arguments for their own machine and against rivals, 
but when they were face to face with the fact of competi 
tion, they had to rely mainly on their own initiative and 
energy. The report of one of them, which I quote from 
Hutchinson s biography, gives such a delightful picture 
of the sterling days of olcl that I repeat it at length : 

I found in the neighborhood supplied from Cassville quite 
early in the season one of Manny s agents with a fancyfully 
painted machine cutting the old prairie grass to the no small 
delight of the witnesses, making sweeping and bold declara 
tions about what his machine could do and how it could beat 
yours, etc., etc. Well, he had the start of me, I must head him 
somehow. I began by breaking down on his fancy machine 
pointed out every objection that I could see and all that I had 
learned last year . . , gave the statements of those that had seen 
the one work in my grass ... all of which I could prove. And 


then stated to all my opinion of what would be the result should 
they purchase from Manny. You pay one half money and give 
your note for the balance, are prosecuted for the last note and 
the cheapest way to get out of the scrape is to pay the note, 
keep the poor machine and in a short time purchase one from 
McCormick . . . Now gentlemen I am an old settler, have shared 
all the hardships of this new country with you, have taken it 
Rough and Smooth . . . have often been imposed on in the way I 
allmost know you would be by purchasing the machine offered 
you to-day. I would say to all, try your machine before you 
[pay] one half or any except the freight. I can offer you one on 
such terms, warrant it against this machine or any other you 
can produce, and if after a fair trial . . . any other proves superior 
and you prefer it to mine, keep [it]. I will take mine back, say 
not a word, refund the freight, all is right again. No Gentle 
men this man dare not do this. 

The Result you have seen. He sold not one. I sold 20. 
About the same circumstances occurred in Lafayette County. 

All Harvester dealers the world over know men like 
this D. R. Burt, of Waterloo, Iowa. He was as much a 
fighting pioneer as was his chief, he knew the toil of service 
and the challenge of success, he saw clearly his single ob 
jective in life and he gained it. The agents of seventy-five 
years later are no less hardy, no less fine, no less devoted 
to the higher destiny of the country Burt was helping to 
make. But they do not knife competitors. The world is 
more graceful now than then, that is all. Burt is gone 
and the men like him, but similar trials remain. There 
is a motor-car to ride instead of a horse, there are leagues 
to journey instead of miles, there are many machines to 
tend instead of a few but the farmer, a newer and 
wiser farmer, is still asking to be served. 

Each year the reaper was better, but there were, never 
theless, many complaints for the agent to adjust. The 
gearing on the 1853 reapers failed and had to be replaced 
during the following winter, free of cost to the purchasers. 


Farmers would insist on delaying their orders until late, 
hail might come to ruin an assured crop, pests would 
ravage a harvest and change triumph into disaster, ma 
chinery was not understood, reapers needing repair were 
left standing in the field through the winter and given no 
attention until the last frantic moment before harvest. 
A factory expert sent out from Chicago to help an agent 
reported: I am sorry I enlisted, but there is no use, I 
shall go through with the Job if I live the machines are 
in the worst plight imaginable. I have found them out 
doors and frozen down just where they used them last. 

The most important innovation introduced into his 
selling system by McCormick was his plan of credit and 
easy terms. From the very beginning of his career, he 
recognized that a farmer s ability to buy was different 
from that of other men. By the very nature of his busi 
ness, a farmer cannot keep on hand a large supply of 
liquid capital. This may not have mattered much when 
each agriculturist produced his own food and clothing; 
but things changed as soon as there were manufactured 
articles to be bought and paid for. A wheat farmer s in 
come comes in once a year, after harvest, and he must 
pay for the machine he uses out of the receipts he gathers 
after the machine has done its work. McCormick himself 
said that one could sell a reaper only by waiting until it 
had paid for itself, 

In the early fifties the price of a reaper was $125, The 
farmer was asked to pay $35 cash plus the freight from 
Chicago. The balance was due on December 1st, with 
6 per cent interest from July 1st. However much the 
local agents were instructed to adhere to these terms, it is 
certain they never hesitated to depart from them. In 
practice the cash received at the time of a sale varied from 
ten per cent to twenty-five per cent, and the balance was 


collected whenever possible within the next year and a 

Of course such a credit system entailed some losses. 
To-day, farm credit is generally considered the best in 
the world. In the days when the West was being settled, 
men were often cruelly tested in their battle with the soil 
and many failed. Credit losses were therefore higher than 
now, and varied from three to five per cent. The cost of 
collections is given as seven and one-half per cent. In 
1856, for example, only a third of the business done was 
for cash and the collectible portion of the balance was 
secured within fourteen months. Such extended credit 
demanded a huge provision of capital and could have 
been justified only by what would now be considered 
colossal profits. 

The subsequent history of credits to farmers has fol 
lowed accepted economic law. As the risk decreased, the 
necessity for such large profits diminished ; as the volume 
rose, the profit per sale lessened. Farm credits have since 
become more secure. That they were good even in Me- 
Cormick s later days is indicated by a story of the weeks 
immediately succeeding the Chicago Fire. He sat on a 
bank directorate with the great merchant, Marshall 
Field, The latter, whose business had been all but obliter 
ated by the conflagration, therefore had an opportunity 
to see how money was rolling into McCormick s account 
from the country. Field sought and obtained a loan of 
one hundred thousand dollars, which money became the 
foundation of his reconstituted business. 

There is a story current among the older men of the 
International Harvester Company which illustrates 
Cyrus Hall McCormick s attitude toward the pioneers of 
farming in the West and their crying need for credit. In 
the early days, when most of the country was unculti- 


vated, farming was a precarious venture, and outpost 
farmers, who had bought reapers on time, would too fre 
quently lose their grain and have no income. McCormick 
met such a situation at Webster City, Iowa, then a mere 
dot on the broad prairies. When he heard of their crop 
failure and their inability to meet their notes, he shook 
hands with each one of the worried debtors, promised to 
see them through, won their friendship to such an extent 
that for years none but a McCormick machine could be 
sold in the town and never lost a penny. 

By 1856, there were McCormick agents all over the 
wheat-growing sections of the United States. They were 
putting into effect the sales portion of a new business 
system. Cyrus Hall McCormick had invented a reaper 
for a world that needed mechanized farming. When that 
was done, he had provided as a background for his ma 
chine a new kind of factory, where, though he doubtless 
knew it not, he was developing the first steps toward 
standardization and mass production. Then he invented 
a system of distribution which included the first bold use 
of public debate in the press to expound his new me 
chanical doctrine, the first broad warranty of a manufac 
tured product, the first aggressive system of selling, the 
first conception of service, and the first broad application 
of credit. He invented the reaper, and he also invented 
the means to make it attainably useful to farmers. 

It is possible that future historians will allot as im 
portant a place to the second feat as to the invention of 
the reaper. McCormick s was the first successful machine 
of its kind. Too many inventions which might otherwise 
be of use to the world fail because the element of com 
mercial appreciation is not added to them, or because 
the cost of production is too high, or because no ade 
quate distribution system is matured. The inventor of 


the reaper provided the needed accessories to supply his 
device to the world. He projected the entire distributing 
plan himself and, to care for production, he developed 
around him a circle of able men, whose work adds to 
rather than detracts from his fame. He himself, a farmer 
turned inventor and forced by circumstances to develop 
new business methods, was the organizer who metamor 
phosed his visions into a practical and integrated unit of 
service to agriculture. 


As ONE reviews the life record of Cyrus Hall McCormick, 
one is constantly impressed with the fine results arising 
from the interplay of his vigor and his imagination. 
While he does not appear consciously to have set about to 
guide destiny, some subtle force seems ever to have been 
piloting him and insuring his progress, Once his eyes 
were fixed upon an objective, however distant, nothing 
short of complete attainment satisfied him. Thus, he dis 
covered foreign trade, fought for and captured a full share 
of it, and, in a day when the United States was an im 
porting country, strove mightily beside those who turned 
the balance of trade in our favor. Having invented first 
the reaper and then a business, a part of the latter task 
was his foresensing of the fact that much of our national 
commercial destiny might lie overseas. Other men s eyes 
were fixed on the West, whose worth he appreciated as 
much as any one. His processes of thought were so rapid 
that he was able to comprehend the tremendous nature of 
that problem and still have room for Europe within the 
range of his vision. 

During the years when his every energy might be 
thought to have been devoted to the new factory in 
Chicago and to the development of the Western States, 
he had time to note and understand the significance of the 
fact that the exportation of wheat from the United States 
to Europe was increasing. Perhaps the chief cause of this 
was the growth of inland railway transportation ; but the 
reaper also was playing an important part in transforming 
America into a food-exporting country. In Great Britain, 


the cradle was less widely used than in America and the 
starvation wages paid to farm labor had driven harvesters 
to the cities to seek work or to California to find gold ; so 
the stage was undoubtedly set for machinery. Indeed, 
Englishmen had long been striving to solve the problem 
of the reaper, but neither Ogle nor Bell nor any other had 
approached success. 

Ever since 1849, when he built a special machine de 
signed for presentation to Prince Albert s Royal Agricul 
tural Society, McCormick had been turning his eyes 
toward the English market. The Crystal Palace Exhibi 
tion of the Industries of All Nations in the summer of 
1851 furnished the suitable occasion. He sent the special 
reaper across the Atlantic in the spring and himself fol 
lowed in August. Hussey had heard of his rival s plans 
and sent a machine of his own. They met before two hun 
dred spectators including the jury from the Exhibition 
and Hussey s machine failed miserably because of the 
operator s lack of skill. A second trial confirmed the re 
sult of the first, and the Virginia reaper was awarded the 
Council Medal, the highest prize of the Fair. 

Before this test the reaper and, indeed, the entire 
American exhibit had been made the butt of criticism 
and newspaper sarcasm. The young United States had 
developed little art of its own, so it could show nothing 
except those useful products it had provided to make its 
own daily life more tolerable. Cotton, tobacco, india- 
rubber shoes, a new repeating pistol, and articles for 
household use were shown. McCormick s reaper, perhaps 
because of the prominence of the stand it occupied, drew 
upon itself the special ire of the London Times. It is a 
cross between an Astley Chariot, a wheelbarrow, and a 
flying machine, said The Thunderer; and it went on to 
sneer that America was proud of her agricultural imple- 


merits which [English manufacturers] would reject as 
worthless. But by the time the Exhibition was over the 
American exhibits had won more prizes in proportion 
than the British themselves. The McCormick reaper was 
attracting more attention than the Kohinoor diamond 
and the Times declared that it might repay Great Britain 
for the entire cost of the Exhibition, 

McCormick made arrangements with a British firm to 
manufacture his reaper and went home. Hussey remained 
behind and, under his own skilled handling, won two sub 
sequent field trials from the Virginia machine. For some 
time both reapers continued popular in England and both 
were sold in considerable numbers with far less resistance 
than they had met ten years previously in America. But 
by 1855 the tide of popular favor turned to McCormick. 

However much England progressed in mechanized 
harvesting, France remained true to hand methods until 
1855, when there was an International Exposition in 
Paris. A great field trial for reapers was organized, the 
McCormick machine won and was given the Grand 
Medal of Honor. Horace Greeley, who had also witnessed 
the American triumph at the Crystal Palace, wrote to 
the New York Tribune that the reaper s victory was more 
beneficent and creditable for the United States than if 
fifty thousand of her troops had defeated one hundred 
thousand choice European soldiers/ 

The reaper was spreading rapidly throughout Europe. 
A McCormick machine was sold in Austria in 1849, and 
the Austrian press looked forward to the clay when 
American machinery would solve the labor problem in 
Austria and counteract the drift of the peasants toward 
rebellion. A few years later, the reaper was introduced 
into Prussia and Poland. In 1858, the first McCormick 
machine reached Russia. At every opportunity the 


reaper was exhibited at the great international fairs and 
carried off many prizes to bring credit to itself and honor 
to its inventor. During the inventor s lifetime it won ten 
major and many hundred minor awards, far more than 
any of its competitors. Cyrus Hall McCormick was him 
self made a corresponding member of the Legion of Honor 
and a member of the Institute of France for having done 
more than any living man for the cause of agriculture. 

One great advantage to the American manufacturers, 
who were thus picturesquely and successfully struggling 
to expand their trade into foreign lands, was the advertis 
ing value they saw in the reports they were able to publish 
at home of their foreign triumphs. Such reports opened 
the eyes of American farmers to the honor accorded their 
native machinery by old and instructed Europe. There 
lay the seat of all wisdom, all experience. Our country 
was brave and confident, but it lacked sure knowledge 
based on precedents of its own ; so a reaper salesman was 
helped when he could say that the selfsame product he 
was selling west of the Mississippi was operating on the 
royal farms of France and England. Even yet American 
farmers were asking for proof before they bought or 
perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they were 
evincing an increasing interest in quality. 

At the moment of its birth, the reaper was by no means 
perfect. It contained in its design the seven vital prin 
ciples without which grain cannot be harvested at all, but 
it cut grain precariously. In its first years its commercial 
value was hampered by its mechanical insufficiency. 
Then came the initial conception of the properly ar 
ranged and opposed cutter-bar serrations, the first of 
McCormick s post-invention period improvements, which 
were to make the original device entirely practicable. 
The addition of a seat for the raker made the machine 


easier to operate. After the move to Chicago, changes to 
facilitate operation, increase durability, and expand its 
usefulness were many. Even before the reaper was turned 
into the binder, these improvements were fundamental. 
They were betterments added to the seven original prin 
ciples, and, since no one of them vitiated the 1831 ele 
ments, they strengthened them. 

After 1848, the home office was kept in touch with the 
performance of the reapers in the field principally by the 
reports of agents and the analyses of complaints sent in 
by the company s own travelers. McCormick himself had 
to spend long periods in Europe, where his business was 
expanding hugely. His correspondence frequently ex 
presses the despair he felt at being so far from the prairie 
farms he loved. But he had left behind him, graven in 
the minds of the men in charge of his business, a solemn 
command to keep the reaper abreast of any demand for 

So, as the agents reported trouble due to poor design or 
too frequent breakage of a part, the reaper was strength 
ened or improved. Before 1855, the weight of the machine 
had increased from eight hundred to twelve hundred 
pounds. The main wheel was enlarged to effect better 
riding qualities and a steadier drive for the mechanism. 
The reel was again improved. The wood platform was 
covered with sheet zinc to make it more durable and the 
grain easier to rake off. A seat was provided on the 
machine for the driver as well as for the raker. Malleable 
iron guards were substituted for cast iron as soon as a 
dependable source of supply could be found. Most im 
portant of all, the modern form of knife with riveted-on 
cutting sections was devised in 1851. These sections were 
triangular pieces of steel with serrations cut in their 
diagonal edges. Thus the former straight cutter bar, with 


opposed serrations incised into its forward edge, now 
became nothing more than a carrying member, and the 
actual attack on the grain was made by the sections. 

All reaper inventors started out with the theory that a 
reaper designed to harvest grain would also cut grass. In 
the middle forties it began to appear that this hope would 
not be realized. Certain reapers developed in grass dis 
tricts were unsuccessful in grain; certain reapers, such 
as McCormick s, whose main objective was grain, were 
inferior as mowers. Men began to understand that the 
two problems were different. Wheat or oats, when ready 
for harvest, present a dry, brittle stalk which is easily 
severed by a sharp knife. Green grass is tougher by far. 
Furthermore, it is desirable to cut grass closer to the 
ground than is necessary with wheat. The guards of a 
mower cutter bar almost scrape the ground, and stones 
which would be overpassed by a grain reaper will wedge 
between the projecting fingers of mower guards. Grass 
has more of a tendency to drag or clog in the space be 
tween the cutting knife and the guards; hence the an 
gularity of the cutting members must be different in a 

For such reasons, the early attempts to perform both 
functions with the same mechanism were doomed to 
failure. Hence the effort McCormick and others made to 
develop a combined type of reaper which could be turned 
into a mower simply by removing one cutter bar and sub 
stituting another. The first McCormick mower was a 
reaper with the platform removed. When it was tried in 
prairie grass near Chicago in 1849, it was even equipped 
with the reel. It did not perform at all ; so next year a 
mower attachment with a new knife was produced. Even 
this got nowhere until, in 1851, the iron cutter bar with 
the riveted-on sections was developed and special mower 


guards were invented. However great its success in 
grain, the McCormick reaper could not be called a good 
mower, at least in its earlier years. 

In the meantime other men were achieving distinction 
in the mower field. Husscy s reaper, though never a great 
commercial success, was a better grass machine than 
McCormick s. In later years the old sailor won a suit for 
patent infringement against his ancient rival and col 
lected a large sum in damages. William F. Ketchum 
became for a time the country s leading mower exponent. 
He gave over the attempt to build a combined mower 
and reaper; and it is probable that his concentration on 
a single purpose was beneficial. Manny had the best 
combination mower and reaper. McCormick s adaptation 
of his reaper was inferior to several of his competitors 
machines; but all were outdistanced in 1858 when Lewis 
Miller invented the famous Buckeye mower, a two- wheel 
machine with a hinged cutter bar. In that day of strife 
between competitors and constant friction, it is interest 
ing to note that in 1860 the Buckeye consolidated with 
its two chief independent rivals and thus effected the 
world s first agricultural implement combination. Mc 
Cormick forged on alone, ahead of all others because he 
had at his back the best business organization. 

He was never of a cooperative frame of mind so far as 
his competitors were concerned. The temper of the times 
was entirely individualistic and he was one of the men 
who set the fashion of thought for his day. Like many 
another born leader, he found it impossible to subordi 
nate the force of his will to any thought of compromise 
or collective action. He was strong enough to carry on 
alone, he was sure of his cause and of himself : why should 
he not fight for his rights and himself defend them when 
they were won? If he failed, no one would help him. The 


business captains of early American industry had to be 
hardy warriors or they fell. 

Thus, when McCormick returned from England in 
1851, it was to meet Seymour and Morgan in the courts. 
Ever since the Brockport partners had started to put on 
the market a renamed copy of the Virginia Reaper, much 
bad blood had naturally existed. Charges were hurled 
through the press, threats were exchanged, and at last 
McCormick sued. His rivals made some changes and gave 
their machine a new name ; he won in the lower court, and 
the issue dragged along until 1854 when he was awarded 
$9*354 damages. The interesting point is not that Sey 
mour and Morgan were thus driven from the reaper field 
their competition was never very important after 1853 
except in New York but that McCormick so boldly 
assumed a front-line position against his competitors in 
what has been called the battle of the reapers. 

The long war with John H. Manny, the most brilliant 
and successful of all his competitors, followed immedi 
ately. McCormick filed suit against him for infringement 
of the minor 1845 and 1847 patents. Practically all other 
reaper manufacturers went in self-protection to the aid 
of Manny. To make a very long story short, the verdict 
sustained Manny, complimented McCormick, and was 
immediately appealed to the Supreme Court. There also, 
in 1858, Manny s innocence was reaffirmed; but he him 
self had died in the meantime. At the height of his 
career, his sale of machines exceeded all other competitors 
and equaled McCormick s. He was another of those 
brilliant American farmer boys who wrought so ably in 
the embattled field of young business. 

The vital interest to-day in this suit is in the array of 
legal talent employed. McCormick s case was argued by 
a corps of able patent attorneys. Manny s counsel in- 


eluded, among others, Edwin M. Stan ton, who was soon 
to become Secretary of War, and a comparatively un 
known young man by the name of Abraham Lincoln. 
What might otherwise have been little more than a 
patent quarrel of local significance thus took on national 
importance. It was Lincoln s first big case; he earned for 
the first time a thousand-dollar fee; and the oratory of 
Stanton fired his enthusiasm and inspired him toward the 
Lincoln-Douglas debates which paved his way to the 

McCormick s complete defeat left him apparently as 
weak as he had seemed when Congress refused to extend 
either his original or his subsequent patents. But in 
reality he was so strongly entrenched that he needed no 
patents. The technical advantages of his enemies could 
not tear down the commercial ramparts he had built with 
his executive ability and strengthened with the enormous 
farmer goodwill he possessed. His brother William was 
right when he told Cyrus that his success was due not to 
patents but to his ability to make and sell machines. 

Cyrus Hall McCormick s biographer has this to say 
about his career during these eventful times: he never 
appears to better advantage than during the years after 
1848. He doubled and quadrupled his sales, greatly en- 
larged his factory, dispensed with partners, fought his 
rivals in Congress and in the courts, abroad and at home, 
on countless harvest fields. He was admired and hated, 
fawned upon and eulogized. But he never aroused 
sympathy for himself and probably would have spurned 
the man who offered it. He was a militant Scotch- Irish 
pioneer, fired by the righteous zeal of his cause, forg 
ing forward with unconquerable will, unswerving in his 
purpose to serve the farmer. 

The Civil War furnished the supreme test of the worth 


of the reaper. The Commissioner of Agriculture said in 
1862 that it would have been impossible to harvest the 
wheat crop if it had not been for the reapers in use in the 
West, each of which released five men for service in the 
army. The Scientific American published the statement 
that without l horse-rakes, mowers and reaping machines, 
one half of the crop would have been left standing on 
the fields Secretary Stanton, now McCormick s friend 
and ally, spoke glowing words of praise: The reaper is 
to the North what slavery is to the South. By taking 
the place of regiments of young men in the western har 
vest fields, it releases them to do battle for the Union at 
the front and at the same time keeps up the supply of 
bread for the Nation and the Nation s armies. Thus, 
without McCormick s invention, I fear the North could 
not win and the Union would be dismembered. 

We who can look back on that tragic epoch know that 
the North won because of superior material resources: 
more factories, more munitions, more railways to gather 
together the offerings of a continent, more food. The 
reaper made the food possible. Food held Europe neutral 
when its sympathies were with the cotton-producing 
South. The reaper preceded the railways into the 
prairies and, in the hands of fighting frontiersmen, turned 
buffalo ranges into stands of wheat made traffic to 
justify the building of the railways. The reaper brought 
the assurance of bread to the munition-making cities, 
and, because Europe had to have wheat, brought money 
back to the cities in return for the export of grain. The 
reaper did its share in making the United States and 
holding it secure. 

The post-bellum reaper that followed the legions of dis 
charged soldiers across the Missouri River or westward 
along the line of the Union Pacific Railway was no longer 


the reaper of the old days. Always McCormick was 
seeking to better it, and year by year he added whatever 
he thought would improve its operation. Obviously an 
automatic raking device would help. Many men had for 
long been trying to build a self-rake reaper and invariably 
they tried to sell their ideas to him; but he was never 
satisfied. One Jearum Atkins actually for a year or two 
bade fair to run away with the reaper trade ; but his fan 
tastic Iron Man machine vanished after the panic of 
1857. McCormick stood his ground and refused to desert 
his original type of reaper until something better ap 
peared. His own self-rake machine was produced in 1862. 
This was the regular reaper equipped with a counter 
balanced rake arm pivoting at the axis of the reel, which 
swept grain off the platform and to the side of the ma 
chine* It eliminated a man s labor and it was popular 
in its day. Yet it was but a step in the onward march 
toward the binder and cannot be said to have been 
epochal in any sense. It was a temporary convenience, 
not a startling invention like the original reaper, not a 
brilliant innovation like the harvester, nor a conclusive 
answer to a demand like the binder. 

Enough has been said of other men who made and sold 
agricultural machinery before 1870 to indicate that, 
however outstanding Cyrus Hall McCormick may have 
been in the industry, he was by no means alone. He 
was the unquestioned leader, but he was never without 
competitors. Scores of companies were making reapers* 
Talcott and Emerson were carrying on the Manny tradi 
tion at Rockford. Benjamin II Warder was producing 
reapers at Springfield in a partnership that was soon to 
include young J\ J* Glessner. At Auburn, IX M, Osborne 
made the mowers that bore his name* Each of the many 
companies had a strong local following, and, though 

A mechanically operated arm swept the grain off the platform 

Popular during the years 1875-1883 


McCormick had perhaps half of the entire trade in the 
United States, his business was centered largely in the 
non-manufacturing wheat districts west of Chicago. 

This account of the evolution of the agricultural imple 
ment industry would be incomplete if it included no refer 
ence to that other man who, next after McCormick alone, 
so wrought that the problems of the farmer were made 
lighter. The reaper is the progenitor of all those agricul 
tural implements which run upon the ground to deal with 
grown crops. Before the dawn of history, man had in 
vented the plow as a more efficient crooked stick to get 
down under the surface and loosen the soil. But there 
was nothing scientific, nothing modern in the ancient 
method of hacking earth into clods and clods into dust. 
A plow was still the crudest of implements until the old- 
fashioned iron machine was introduced. Such a device, 
however, will not clean itself in sticky land and farmers 
would not continue to accept it. As the middle-western 
part of the United States was settled in the third decade 
of the nineteenth century, the cleaning, or scouring, diffi 
culty became insuperable. An iron plow would break sod 
well enough, but when the once-virgin soil had been 
worked a few years, the loam would cake, stick to the 
face of the plow, and clog the operation of the imple 

At this time there lived in Grand Detour, an Illinois 
hamlet, one John Deere, who had moved there from 
Vermont in 1837. A blacksmith by trade, he had added 
the repairing of iron plows to his other work. It was out 
of the comparative failure of these rude tools that he hit 
upon his great contribution to the science of farming, the 
steel plow. He obtained a piece of broken bandsaw blade ; 
he whittled a log into the shape he desired for the mold- 
board and share of his plow; then he heated the piece of 


steel, shaped and hardened it over the pattern; and lastly, 
he added a wrought-iron landside. On its initial test, 
this, the world s first commercial steel plow, proved a 
complete success, and John Deere s name, though he 
knew it not, was written on the pages of history. 

There is a close parallel between Deere s plow of 1837 
and McCormick s reaper of 1831. Both men seemed to 
accomplish instant success, neither was satisfied with his 
first work, both sought constantly to improve their de 
vice, and each of them did far more than merely achieve 
his immediate object. McCormick cut grain successfully 
by mechanism for the first time and won undying fame 
and he also developed the seven elements without which 
no mechanical reaper can function. Deere gave the steel 
plow to a needy world, a machine that would scour and 
plow cleanly; but he should be equally famous because 
he, first of all men, reduced to a science the shape of the 
moldboard. He taught plow builders the world over that 
good preparation of the soil is dependent not merely on 
cutting into the ground, but on turning the sod over in 
a predetermined manner dictated by the nature of the 

John Deere s steel plow was not the very first; but, like 
McCormick, he had organizing ability enough to build a 
great business. He, too, had many worthy competitors, 
two of whom deserve special mention. James Oliver 
started making plows at South Bend in 1853. Seeking 
also to provide a plow that would scour in all kinds of 
soil, he turned to the use of chilled metal. Of the dis 
couragements that attended his experimental efforts at 
invention he said : Plow men who had spent years in ex 
perimenting and had abandoned the project of a complete 
chilled plow advised me not to undertake it. Those who 
had aided me with money and influence forsook me, and 


I was classed with the fools who pursue the fallacy of 
perpetual motion. Although feeling keenly the cuts of 
former friends, I determined to succeed. Day and night 
for years I thought of nothing else and made everything 
bend to this one great object of my life.... The world 
knows what splendid work for farmers has grown out of 
Oliver s consecration. Is it too much to say that deter 
mination coupled with vision are the necessary con 
comitants of any invention? 

William Parlin came from the East to Canton, Illinois, 
in 1840. Like Deere, he made plows by conforming saw 
blades to wooden moldboards. A few years later, William 
Orendorff became his partner. While the former worked 
in the little shop, the latter drove about central Illinois 
with wagons loaded with plows. Aggressive salesmanship 
was invariably rewarded in the land of agricultural 
opportunity, and the business grew. Other implements 
were added to the line until, in 1866, Orendorff picked up 
the invention of a Missouri blacksmith, the first lister. 
Corn joined wheat immediately as a crop suitable for 
Western methods of cultivation. 

Nothing, not even the business of these manufacturers 
of plows, was able to challenge McCormick s lead in the 
implement field. But the old reaper had lived too long 
and its doom was spelled by the invention of the har 
vester by two farmer boys by the name of Marsh. Their 
first sales in 1863 followed trying years of experimenta 
tion. Their theory was that harvesting was made slow 
and difficult by the necessity of collecting and binding 
grain on the ground where it fell from the reaper platform. 
It is said that the brothers were nervous and highstrung 
and could not tolerate any delay at the time of harvest. 
So, by a feat of time-saving motion-study worthy of a 
twentieth-century manufacturer, they elaborated a plan 


of raising the grain by means of continuous canvas 
aprons from the reaper platform over the top of the main 
wheel, where it fell neatly on a table. Two men rode the 
machine, standing before this table on a footboard. They 
bound the grain as fast as it fell over to them and then 
tossed the bundles to the ground. They could bind 
speedily because they were able to stand erect at their 
task; they did not have to step and stoop along, scraping 
armsful of wheat together and halting to bind the sheaf. 
Their work was brought to them the machine recog 
nized the fact of their brains, not their puny muscles. 

At the close of the Civil War, a new era of farm expan 
sion began and the tremendous step ahead taken by the 
Marsh brothers came in the nick of time. The machine 
won immediate popularity. McCormick at first refused to 
yield, but the march of progress was too strong. Many 
of his competitors went to the wall or took out licenses 
to make the Marsh type of harvester. The record does 
not relate how McCormick s pride and his esteem for the 
reaper took the shock of the reaper s defeat. We may 
assume, however, that a man whose commercial judg 
ment was so acute knew better than to cry over spilt 
milk. The supremacy of the old machine was over - 
the farmers wanted progress; so he, too, began to build 

Every one realized how greatly the problem of harvest 
ing had been simplified by the new machine. The self- 
rake reaper had eliminated the raker, a clear gain in the 
labor cost of a bushel of wheat. The Marsh harvester cut 
the time of binding in two. But no one for a minute 
believed that the end of mechanical development was in 
sight. There was one S. D. Carpenter, a loquacious Wis 
consin editor who was himself something of an inventor 
and who for years had been, preaching the doctrine of 


mechanical binding. Influenced by his trenchant argu 
ments, farm opinion held that somehow the harvester 
must be equipped with mechanism to tie the bundles of 
grain. Most inventions, if recognized at all, appear to 
the men of their time to be the last word ; but the Marsh 
harvester which was in every sense a great invention 
was believed to be merely a brilliant advance step on 
the highway of progress. 

In 1872, Charles B. Withington sought out McCormick 
and showed him a model of a wire binder. The reaper 
inventor immediately saw that here was a chance to 
regain whatever prestige he had lost in his own eyes. 
He had lost none in the mind of the public, for the 
McCormick manufacturing and selling system had been 
powerful enough to carry on with the harvester in place 
of the reaper; but he could not be satisfied until he had 
made yet another contribution of his own to the science 
of agricultural machinery. So he bought the Withington 
device, built a few machines experimentally, and in 1877 
was ready to produce the wire binder in quantities. 

Farmers took up the wire binder as avidly as they had 
the harvester. McCormick swept the field. Fifty thou 
sand of the new machines were sold in the next few years. 
In every place where wheat was grown, one could see the 
arm of the Withington binder thrust its way over the 
stream of wheat, seize a bundle of grain, lock the wire 
about its middle, cut it loose, and toss it bound upon the 
stubble. Some farmers objected. They said that the wire 
broke off and pieces mingled with the straw to the detri 
ment of their stock. But the economy of labor made 
possible by the binder was sufficient to answer all objec 
tions. Hand labor had now practically been eliminated. 
A child old enough to hold the reins of a team could reap 
and bind the crop. The wire binder, with two men to 


pick up and shock the sheaves, could harvest twelve or 
fourteen acres of grain a day. 

McCormick s renewed supremacy was rudely chal 
lenged in the harvest of 1880. One E. H. Gammon, a 
former Methodist minister, had left the pulpit for more 
lucrative service in the West where he sold reapers and 
Marsh harvesters. He came ultimately to control the 
Marsh factory at Piano, a suburb of Chicago, and took 
as a silent partner a former fellow townsman from Maine, 
William Deering. Deering was a new type of man to the 
implement industry. He knew nothing about agriculture. 
He had gained a fortune in the dry-goods business. Be 
ginning life in his father s woolen mills, he had worked 
his way upward through the hard school of commerce 
and administration. He was the first man to enter the 
implement industry who had not fought his way through 
the bitter struggles of mechanical invention and soul- 
testing competition. In 1873, Deering moved to Chicago. 
He, too, Maine merchant though he was, felt the lure of 
the West; and as his contribution to it he brought per 
severance equal to that of any of the more experienced 
gladiators already in the arena, and a nicely balanced 
judgment of the characters of men that matched his 
great commercial ability. 

In 1879, Gammon fell ill and retired, and Deering, now 
in sole charge of the firm s affairs, decided to move away 
from Piano and build a new factory in Chicago s northern 
suburbs. At the same time he bought the ideas of John 
F. Appleby and prepared to build a twine binder. In the 
first season, 1880, he made and sold three thousand of the 
new machines. The wire binder s brief day of supremacy 
was over, 

Appleby, one of the great names in the history of 
American invention, had hit upon the combination of 

The first self-binder 

^.li&ialla? S2 

Built in 1 88 1 


successful units that had barred the access of all other 
men to the secret of a successful twine binder. He win 
nowed the wheat from the chaff of Locke s many inven 
tions; from Carpenter he gathered the principle of the 
elevation and then the downward delivery of the stream 
of grain; from J. H. Gordon he got the idea of packer 
cranks to wedge the grain in front of the tying needle; 
from Behel he gleaned the idea for the knotter; and from 
Gorham he took the principle of the automatic trip to 
start the mechanism of the binder under the pressure 
of the weight of grain. He himself assimilated all the 
experience of previous twine-binder investigators, added 
his own genius, and continued the cycle begun by the 
invention of the reaper. 

In one year Deering had built and occupied a new 
factory, bought a hitherto untried patent and turned it 
into an immensely successful machine, invaded a field 
already crowded with experienced manufacturers, and 
was rapidly running away with the remaining shreds of 
the popular favor they had gained through so many 
years! In truth, the age of romance was not yet over! 
There was still room in business for courage and resource 
fulness and vigor and nerve and ability. The unostenta 
tious, shrewd newcomer possessed them all. 

Fifty years after the first test at Steele s Tavern, Mc- 
Cormick found his position again in jeopardy and his 
leadership challenged by competition far more serious 
than the Marsh harvester of a few years before. With 
extraordinary rapidity he adapted himself to the new 
circumstances, arranged for a license to manufacture the 
Appleby type of twine binder, and entered the 1881 
harvest ready to do battle as before, valiantly, mightily, 

The evolution of the reaper was not complete until the 


time when, decades later, the tractor would come into 
being to furnish another type of motive power and de 
mand other types of machinery. The reaper had lasted 
for thirty years until it gave way to the self-rake reaper. 
That yielded to the harvester, the parent of the binder. 
The binder was to remain supreme for nearly forty years. 
Its generation was to be a period of warfare and victory, 
of commercial slaughter and increasing service, of bitter 
hatred and the fineness of human vigor. McCormick s 
career was to dominate the future, to guide the entire 
half-century. His influence was to live on, even into the 
age of power farming. 


THE Chicago Fire of 1871 might have ruined the young 
metropolis if it had not been for the courage and the 
far-sightedness of a few leading men. When the holocaust 
was over, the entire business district of the city and a 
large part of the residential quarter had been wiped out. 
The fifteen thousand buildings which had occupied the 
district north of Harrison Street (where the present 
Harvester Building stands), south of Lincoln Park, and 
east of the two branches of the Chicago River, had been 
destroyed. Three and a half square miles of city and 
$188,000,000 worth of property were reduced to d6bris 
and ashes. Ninety-four thousand people were homeless 
and the working places of countless others had vanished. 

Cyrus Hall McCormick s name figured prominently in 
the rebuilding of Chicago, for he was one of the group 
of leaders who had an aggressive confidence in the city s 
future. Time and romance have endowed these men with 
an aura of legend, attaching to their work for recon 
struction a picturesqueness that is pleasant, but really 
less typical of them than the actual facts. Suffice it to 
say that in the minds of the captains of Chicago there 
was never any question of yielding. 

McCormick s wife and children were at that time in 
Richfield Springs, New York. One morning they went 
placidly to the telegraph office to announce their intended 
departure for home. An excited clerk, hardly able to 
speak, refused to take Mrs. McCormick s message on the 
ground that there was no Chicago ! That was not so, of 
course. Chicago s body had been destroyed, but its hard- 


working, militant young spirit, as represented in the 
brains and the enthusiasms of its better citizenry, was 
very much alive. When some dispirited individuals began 
to talk of moving to St. Louis or Milwaukee, the leaders 
rose up and, by their force of will and courage, remade 
the city. 

W. D. Kerfoot built a shack in the middle of a former 
downtown street and, announcing all gone but wife, 
children, and energy/ went on selling real estate and 
distributing enthusiasm. Mayor Roswell B. Mason built 
a new city hall almost overnight. Joseph Medill, who 
followed him in office, roused Chicago s enthusiasm for 
sound construction. A rebuilt Board of Trade was opened 
on the first anniversary of the fire. Field and Leiter lost 
everything they possessed when their insurance com 
panies failed, but they were smiling when their dry-goods 
business opened temporarily in a stable. John V. Farwell 
began to construct his new store while the stones of the 
old buildings were still hot. Within two years Cyrus Hall 
McCormick, Potter Palmer, R. T. Crane, and others 
opened a huge exposition building on the lake front where 
all the world might come and see how Chicago was 
recovering from catastrophe. 

McCormick met his wife five miles outside the ruined 
city, gray from lack of sleep and with the arm of his coat 
burned off. He drove with her to the wreck of the factory 
to discuss the question of rebuilding. He was advancing 
in years and was financially independent he might 
easily have accepted the destruction of his property as a 
decree of fate and elected to live the remaining years of 
his life at peace. But ease was not one of the things this 
fighting pioneer was looking for. His was the restless 
energy which was always seeking some service to perform. 
He felt that the farmers of the world needed his machines. 


And there was his constantly reiterated belief, I know of 
no better place for a man to die than in the harness/ In 
truth, he did not know how to give over striving. 

There is a tale to the effect that McCormick left the 
decision to carry on or to retire to his wife; but to me 
it seems that his character would have made surrender 
impossible. He himself said, I at once determined to 
proceed with the work of rebuilding/ So temporary 
buildings were ordered while (as an octogenarian pen 
sioner has told me) the workmen cheered. 

Obviously the business had grown beyond the hemmed- 
in possibilities of the little factory. Ten thousand reapers 
had been sold that year and the early advent of the 
Marsh harvester would soon widen the demand for 
farm machinery. A few days before the fire, McCormick 
had acquired a new factory site on the southwest side 
of the city, far away from the crowded center of Chicago. 
To insure plenty of room for growth, he bought a wide 
expanse of prairie where his vacant acres might serve 
first as testing fields and then for the expanding industry 
he foresaw. If it did nothing else, the Chicago Fire 
hastened the construction of the new McCormick Works. 
The appliances which were the reaper s lineal descendants 
were bursting the seams of the garments cut so many 
years before to fit the frame of the reaper s youth. New 
pioneering was needed. 

The first of the new buildings was a long four-story 
structure which housed the forge, the wood shop, and 
the machine and assembling departments. Behind it was 
the foundry. Seven hundred men worked in the factory 
for nine months of the year. During the harvest season 
it was customary to shut the plant down to permit the 
entire attention of the company to be given to the field. 
The first foundry has now given place to a towering man- 


ufacturing structure; but the four-story building still 
stands. High on its face is the proud legend of its past, 
1 McCormick Reaper Manufactory. Established 1831. It 
is now too small for the giant production program of 
modern times, but, as a fitting tribute to McCormick s 
insistence on service to the fanner, it now houses the 
repairs department. And, as if in a memorial gesture of 
tribute to the founder of the industry, another sign re 
peats these words of a later president of the twentieth- 
century company, Quality is the foundation of our 
business/ The echo of the past is strong. 

The new factory permitted the introduction of many 
manufacturing processes which are of the greatest inter 
est to a student of the development of the American 
system of mass production. In certain cases their intro 
duction took place after McCormick s death. Neverthe 
less, it seems to me that he was responsible for them as 
well as for the improvements which he directly super 
vised. Men can expect no greater tribute than to have 
their ideas carried forward by their successors into a gen 
eration energized, not by their presence, but by the un 
seen inspiration of their remembered greatness. 

Huge warehouses were constructed where stocks of 
machines built during the winter could be accumulated 
against the invariably sudden shipping demand of the 
pre-harvcst season. In 1875, a small locomotive was pur 
chased to substitute more efficiently for horses, mules, or 
oxen in shunting railway cars to and from the various 
loading docks. The new gray iron foundry, which re 
mained in service for twenty-five years until pulled down 
to make room for a larger building, had a capacity of a 
hundred tons of castings per day and was famous for its 
molding machinery and other time- and labor-saving 
equipment. Special boring machines were devised in 


1886 to perform simultaneously several of the intricate 
operations leading to the completion of a mower frame. 
Painting tanks, where assembled units or even entire 
machines could be dipped into a pool of paint, were 
introduced in 1889 or earlier, and the slower method of 
applying color by means of hand brushing was abandoned. 

Such methods are one and all fundamental to modern 
progressive manufacturing. The present system requires 
man-power trained to accomplish one or a few operations 
most skillfully rather than ancient craftsmanship which 
knew how to perform many tasks accurately but not 
economically. It also requires the introduction of 
special, single-purpose equipment which will do several 
tasks at once with a minimum expenditure of time. The 
full development of special machinery was not reached 
until forty or more years after Cyrus Hall McCormick s 
death nor is it complete even to-day, for men are still 
pondering and planning to improve the things they do. 
Nevertheless, it is certain that our wider experience is 
based upon the pioneering of the past. 

It is also interesting in the extreme to discover how far 
in advance of his time McCormick was in the matter of 
welfare work. It is recognized in modern industry that an 
executive should consider the interests of his employees; 
but it is safe to say that fifty years ago few employers were 
conscious of the fact that workmen have feelings. Most 
managers regarded them then merely as another type of 
machinery whose cooperation could be purchased for so 
many cents the hour. Not so with McCormick. Possibly 
because his own early years had been filled with hours of 
severe toil, he appreciated better than other captains of 
industry the social and economic importance of the inter 
relation of satisfaction and labor. Just before his death 
he inaugurated a policy of assistance to employees, the 


most important element of which was the construction 
of model cottages sold at cost to his men; and he gave 
land for a church in the vicinity of his factory. 

To portray Cyrus Hall McCormick merely as a suc 
cessful inventor and business man is to miss many of the 
most significant elements of his character. The great 
men of all ages have been many-sided ; and he certainly 
possessed that type of mind which is never satisfied by 
the conquest of one world. As he became wealthy, it was 
no more than fitting that his thoughts should turn toward 
donations to his church. As a boy he had been brought 
up in a highly religious atmosphere. Always serious- 
minded and not given to the lighter activities of other 
youths, it was natural for him to exhibit an ever- 
deepening interest in church affairs. In 1846, when he 
was urging his brother Leander to go to Cincinnati, one 
of the advantages of that city in his eyes was its many 
churches. Chicago, too, appealed to him in 1847 partly 
because of the strength of the local Presbyterianism. So 
when he had money to donate to causes, it was second 
nature for him to seek to further the interests of the 
Presbyterian Church. 

At the 1859 General Assembly, he offered to endow the 
professorships of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary 
of the Northwest, provided the institution were removed 
to Chicago. The account of his frequent gifts to religious 
education, his energy and enthusiasm for the work of the 
Seminary which he thus took under his wing, and his 
overwhelming concern for its affairs, has no proper place 
in these pages. Nevertheless, his methods were typical 
of the spirit that went into the development of his 
business. Just as he was ever eager to cross swords with 
all and sundry who denied the supreme merit of his 
reaper and to fill the columns of the newspapers here and 


abroad with long articles on the invention, so he ap 
proached theological debate. His letters were just as full 
of technical discussion as were his panegyrics on the 
subject of mechanized agriculture. Woe to the Seminary 
professor, whether in Chicago or elsewhere, who sought 
to convince him on some Scriptural or doctrinal point. 
McCormick sprang to the defense of his own beliefs as 
hardily as if the controversy concerned the originality of 
his invention. The Bible, the teachings of Presbyterian 
leaders, the sermons of those divines who belonged to his 
school of thought, were one and all marshaled in defense 
of his points. His correspondence bristles with argument, 
his logic is pointed with the merciless barbs of supreme 
self-confidence, his assurance is founded on deep-seated 
consecration to the cause of Christianity. 

In 1873, when religious issues were embittered by the 
feud between the northern and the southern branches of 
the Presbyterian Church, he bought a religious news 
paper, The Interior, and tried through its editorial policy 
to promote union between the Old and New schools of 
embattled Presbyterianism. For years he poured money 
into this publication. He never lost faith in the efficacy 
of his message. He never saw himself, whether as an 
inventor or as a private citizen, other than as a mis 
sionary ordained to do some service for the world. His 
pastor said of him, He thought of souls as well as 
machines. His own creed was simple: Business is not 
inconsistent with Christianity, but the latter ought to 
be a help to the former, giving confidence and resignation 
after using all proper means/ 

Such of his enormous correspondence as I have read 
gives a fascinating perspective of the scope of Mc- 
Cormick s mind. His public letters, as for example on 
the Seminary, are forcible, logical, conclusive, and highly 


combative. His mental processes are indicative not only 
of a great breadth of vision, but of an assuredness that 
is superb. One cannot read his massing of evidence upon 
some obscure point of religious controversy, or upon the 
reaper, without realizing that he was as much himself 
convinced by his own argument as he was convincing. 
His private letters are hurried, compact, and very much 
abbreviated. His style was a kind of shoi thancl that tells 
much of the productively crowded state of his mind. 
Being a great man, he was not too big for as close atten 
tion to details as to the broader aspects of affairs. He 
shows himself to have been as constructively interested 
in such matters as the health of his manufacturing staff 
or the state of national unity. His many letters to his 
well-loved brother William indicate how close he was to 
the details of his business. They are filled with discus 
sions of those little points which executives theoretically 
overlook. But not he: for the reaper was his life. 

McCormick never held public office, but he was ever 
keenly interested in the practice of government. As a 
Southerner, it was natural that his affiliations should 
lie with the Democratic Party. An intimate friend of 
Horace Greeley, he was largely Instrumental in aiding 
that great journalist to argue the case for pacific settle 
ment of the dispute between the North and the South. 
When the combat which he abhorred could not longer be 
avoided, he deemed it his privilege to try to bring the 
warring halves of the Nation together again and spent 
much time preparing a basis for settlement. He thought 
of the Nation as an economic unit that should not be 

Similarly, by investment and moral support he helped 
in the completion of the first transcontinental railway 
system, the Union Pacific; and he was one of the first of 


those men who stood out for the construction of an 
Isthmian Canal. The development of the Pacific Coast 
States was a matter at that time beyond any selfish com 
mercial consideration. Nevertheless, the conception of a 
strong, united, far-flung nation appealed mightily to his 
imagination. It may have been as well that his experi 
ments in politics never carried him beyond the ownership 
of two Chicago newspapers, the Times and the Exposi 
tor ; and it is not improbable that his powerful influence 
was more effective as a layman than if, as his friends 
wished, he had become Senator. After all, his crowded 
life may have seemed full enough as it was. 

There have been few busier men than Cyrus Hall 
McCormick. No great pioneer has ever been satisfied 
with an inconclusive life, nor can the possible limits of 
an active mind be measured in usual terms. A pioneer 
seeks the remote fastnesses of the unknown because his 
brain compels him. McCormick invented the reaper and 
straightway leaped from a Virginia farm to national 
prominence. He devised ways to manufacture his ma 
chine. He pioneered American business toward mod 
ern advertising, a bold warranty of product, and a broad 
system of credit to the customer. He organized quality, 
canvassing, and service. He envisioned the infancy of 
foreign trade and labored for its development. He found 
time for interest in religious, political, and public affairs. 
In addition to all these matters, he was able to give real 
attention to the details of the private lives of an immense 
number of friends, business associates, and dependents. 
It will never be known how many people sought him out 
with petty problems, how many troubled men found re 
assurance in his readily offered store of experience and 
wisdom. In his last years, when ill health confined him 
to his house, he was wont to hold a court of counsel in 


the afternoon. His parlor would be full of people seeking 
interviews. One after another would be ushered in to 
him as he sat in his wheel chair, bringing their problems 
to the judgment seat of his wisdom. No one was ever 
turned away the great mind was big enough for all and 
his sympathy never waned. But once when his infant 
son was carried in he forgot all else. Take him away/ he 
said to his wife, if you want me to have attention for 
these other matters. 

His marriage in 1857 was one of the happier moments in 
a life that must seem too much drawn upon by crowding 
events. During all his younger days he eschewed the so 
ciety of women. Tall, handsome, dark-haired, impressive 
in face and figure, a lion of a man in any company, he 
might have chosen from among the circles of the great. 
But he had dedicated his career to the business of the 
reaper and perhaps he felt that the pleasures of feminine 
companionship were not for him. Yet, when he was 
forty-eight, he met young Nancy Fowler who was visiting 
friends in Chicago, was captivated, and married her. Of 
my revered grandmother I shall have more to relate in 
another place. Suffice it now to say that, however much 
Cyrus Hall McCormick may have dedicated his being to 
great deeds of service, he found in this girl the equal of 

Never has there been a man whose days were more 
consecrated to the work he had made his own. It was his 
custom to awake at five, consider his problems in the 
solitude of early morning, and spend the usual waking 
hours in consultation with his associates and subordi 
nates. After supper he would sleep for two hours in his 
chair and then, until midnight, he would again engage in 
interviews and discussions. In these conferences he some 
times seemed deliberate in making up his mind, but once 


he reached a decision, his purpose was adamant. He 
practically never went out : the world came to him with 
its problems and its hopes. He never enjoyed any relaxa 
tion except music, never sought the diversion of the 
theater or society. His purpose in life was so single that 
he would not hunt a way to those idle mental pastures 
which men seek for recreation or for growth. He found 
his rest in activity. 

We in this generation have time for those problems 
only which can be classified by secretaries and organized 
into systems. He never had a secretary. His wife copied 
his voluminous letters; his eldest son represented him 
when he could not be in two places at once. His filing 
cabinet was his brain or the drawer of his desk. With 
none of the conveniences which we employ to facilitate 
our labor, he invented and conducted a business and still 
maintained mental energy enough to keep an intimate 
contact with a dozen other matters. Each of these de 
manded a volume of correspondence that would terrify 
any one not equipped with typewriters and the like. Each 
of them received his full attention and his interest. Each 
of them was vital to his mentality. The secret of his 
grasp of affairs unquestionably lay in his breadth and 
force of mind he could grasp so much more than 
average men that his thought was not exhausted, but 
flourished, rather, under the stimulus of activity. 

Perhaps Cyrus Hall McCormick was one of those rare 
men who, in the eyes of weaker mortals, are afflicted with 
a disease of superactivity. Napoleon was such a man, one 
of whom other men stood and still stand in awe. 
He could do without sleep, make plans with an unerring 
aim at success, attend to a score of petty details without 
losing the perspective of his broad objective, rule destiny 
as it were and still remain unfatigued and competent. 


No subject was too small for Inclusion within the sweep 
of Oliver Cromwell s intellect. Lincoln possessed under 
standing as well as courage and a supreme vision of pur 
pose that showed him conclusions far beyond the reach 
of an average mind. Theodore Roosevelt, as much as any 
man, combined the vigor of innumerable activities with 
the force of swift and sure decision; and both with an 
almost unhuman ability to stretch his intelligence and 
appreciation to unbelievable limits. So, also, the pioneers 
who adventured across the Atlantic to discover America, 
or toiled over the plains to find the limits of the West, 
were urged onward by the force of their own unleashed 
energy. One and all, they could carry more in their great 
minds than normal men. The scope of their activity 
was not limited by their bodily strength nor did they 
possess a finite power of absorption. They were success 
fully, supremely, finely superactive. And so, too, was 

The number of lawsuits in which he engaged is an in 
teresting commentary on the tenacious vigor of the man. 
Their total would appall a pacifist. He crossed legal 
swords with the United States Patent Office, with 
Hussey, with Seymour and Morgan, with Manny, and 
with numberless other men. Almost always he lost, but 
ever he sued or was sued because of an inherent 
faith in the justice of his cause. Call him stubborn if you 
will, or determined or militant: once he had embarked 
upon a course planned after using all proper means/ he 
could not be swerved from his objective. He did not 
fight for the mere joy of victory, but for the more desir 
able aim of justice. His sense of justice was so strong 
that it gave intensity to his purpose, strength to his will, 
and nerved him through the long trials of unending per 
severance. He had awe and reverence for those things 


which are true and right. His thorough conviction that 
justice must prevail made him insensible to reproach and 
impatient of delay. Justice, of course, was required to 
measure up to his own reading of the evidence but 
it is in such strength of character that the foundations of 
success are formed. 

One of the most character-revealing lawsuits in which 
he engaged was concerned with what he deemed an over 
charge for certain excess baggage on a trip. Enraged, he 
refused to pay, left the train, and the trunks went on to 
Chicago without him, to be burned by fire next day. He 
sued the railway for their value, and then, because his 
cause immediately became a matter of principle, fought 
it for over twenty years. In the end, just before his 
death, he won; and he had spent five times the amount 
of the damages his estate received. Judged by its result, 
this litigation may seem purposeless. Perhaps but 
even so it is something to believe so bravely in the justice 
of your position and in its attainment. 

A man who thus fights his way through life, beating 
down opposition with an intolerant disregard, must neces 
sarily make personal enemies. It is safe to say that his 
business competitors hated him, partly because of jeal 
ousy for his success and partly because of his ruthless 
championing of the cause of his reaper. The same quali 
ties are at the root of his failure as a politician. But hard 
as he might be toward an enemy, he always fought his 
battles in the open : he never in his life spoke disparag 
ingly of a man behind his back. 

Consider the environment from which McCormick 
sprang: a Virginia farm. But rural life and rural com 
munities have ever furnished the vitality of the Nation. 
Streets and country highways were then unpaved lanes. 
Houses were simple, with tall doors and narrow windows, 


unaffected as yet by the architectural outreachings of a 
more sophisticated age. Pulpit and post office came to 
the people jogging a-horseback with the circuit-rider or 
the contract mail carrier. The village store contained 
only the barest necessaries of life and not one of the 
varied luxuries of to-day s drug store or corner grocery. 
There was no railway station in such a community, no 
garage, no moving-picture palace but always a church, 
always a school, always a blacksmith shop. Of food, there 
was more than sufficient if crops were good, but it was 
home-grown, guiltless of the cannery or the packing 
house; and the simple clothing, perhaps even the Sun 
day best, was homespun and homesewn. There was no 
leisure class, for to work for one s livelihood was as 
natural as to breathe. 

Change the picture: It is now Chicago of 1884. We 
vision the growing, eager, young city instead of the farm 
and the village. The quiet brick house has become a 
brownstone mansion decorated with carved paneling and 
the art of Europe. Presbyterian ism and Democracy 
hurry here for counsel, and the tall reception rooms are 
thronged with seekers come to ask for aid and gain relief. 
Cyrus Hall McCormick wears the button of the Legion 
of Honor, and he has grown rich, but he is still working. 
The blacksmith shop where his strong young arm beat 
out a chariot for his fame has become a mighty factory 
energized by his intellect. The farmer boy has become 
chief citizen among Chicago s thousands. 

His reaper has served him well ; so he goes on serving 
serving the need of the farmer for relief from labor, an 
swering the cry of the world for bread. His work is done; 
he must lay down his own share of service. The pioneer 
must give over his fight. But his work will live. 

Life, 7 McCormick told his wife as he lay dying in 


1884, l is a battle/ He had not found it easy. He gained 
from it wealth and fame and leadership among men ; but 
he put into the struggle as much as he took out of it. 
Most of all, it seems to me, his success is indicative of the 
triumph imagination may gain over the obstacles of sloth 
and blind prejudice and the legion of those things which 
are held to be impossible simply because no one has yet 
accomplished them. Abstract qualities are, after all, the 
ultimate test. McCormick did not invent the reaper 
simply because he was a natural mechanic, nor devise his 
novel business methods purely because he had something 
to sell. He had a constructive genius spurred on by the 
overwhelming reach of his imagination. He could, by its 
aid, have been equally successful in any other age or 

There is invariably something fine and challenging in 
being the first in a field. We whose lives are so settled by 
the limitations of environment, cannot but respect a 
pioneering spirit. We envy its ability to project itself 
into the unknown and to gain tangible satisfaction out 
of the reach of imagination. Throughout all history such 
imagination as McCormick s has taught men many 
things. It has freed their thought from the shackles of 
precedent, led their minds into untrodden paths, helped 
them through valleys of indecision and over mountains 
of doubt. Imagination cannot be defeated, for it is free; 
nor circumscribed, for it is illimitable. It has given the 
world the means to satisfy all those wants civilization has 
created. Relief from the pains of labor is one of the most 
poignant of these; an improved standard of living is 
another. As men developed out of the primitive first 
into families and then into nations, they found means to 
express their desires ; and when a certain few became in 
dividuals beyond and above the horde of average beings, 


our system of life has permitted them to develop. Then 
comes the crucial test of worth. If the imagination of the 
rare individual is of permanent value, the effect of his 
work the record of his mental stature will live on 
after him. It will even increase because of the fine founda 
tion he has provided. 

So it was with Cyrus Hall McCormick. His outstand 
ing personality links the reaper with the solution of the 
problems of our clay. He died before the tractor was 
dreamed of or mass production was named ; but his reaper 
and the business he built were together the progenitors 
both of a new agriculture and a new concept of industry. 
However much he accomplished by his own strength, his 
greatest contribution to the world lies in the fact that the 
fire of service lit by his imagination burns ever more 
brightly because of his example. 



EARLY on an April morning of 1885, a muttering crowd 
gathered around the barred gates of McCormick Works. 
For days the workmen had been on strike. They did not 
know what their grievances were, but, as happens in labor 
troubles, an aggressive minority had taught fear to the 
many who did not want to lay down their tools. There 
had been inflaming speeches by avowed anarchists, ora 
tors who spoke English with mid-European gutturals, 
about capitalism and the solidarity of the masses. The 
men were told that their brothers on the street cars and in 
other factories of Chicago were seething with revolt. The 
city was in the throes of a newspaper quarrel, a recent 
panic had left its scars on the financial sinews of the com 
munity, and the class hatred which was soon to flare into 
the tragedy known as the Haymarket Riot was stirring. 
Seen from the employer s point of view, the city-wide 
labor disturbances of the hour were a shocking commen 
tary on the instability of political unionism ; viewed from 
the standpoint of the worker, it seemed almost impossible 
to save enough from low wages to buy bread. 

A report traveled through the district that troops might 
come to protect the factory gates from a rumored attack 
by the strikers; and they, ready to resist force with force, 
had collected such arms as they could. They glared up 
Blue Island Avenue toward the city and waited. A buggy 
appeared, trotting down the long street; but, expecting to 
hear the tramp of the militia, they paid it no attention. A 
young man, bearded and smiling and apparently carefree, 
drove up. In the face of his confident geniality, and be- 


cause he was alone, the crowd parted. He waved a good 
morning, spoke to his horse, and drove through the press 
to the gate of McCormick Works. Not recognizing him, 
the crowd gasped at his temerity. He gave an order to the 
guard within, the gate swung back with a rattle of loos 
ened chains, and he entered. In a moment he reappeared 
and called to the milling crowd, Come on in, boys, if you 
want to work. The gate is open. 

That man was Cyrus H. McCormick, son of the in 
ventor of the reaper, my father. It is a matter of record 
that shortly thereafter he raised wages and dismissed the 
superintendent whose harshness had brewed what real 
trouble there was. 

Cyrus H. McCormick was chosen president of the 
McCormick Harvesting Machine Company immediately 
after the death of his father in 1884. As may well be 
imagined, he, a young man of twenty-five, found it no 
easy task to step into the place of one of the Nation s 
leading industrialists. To aid him, he had five years of ex 
perience as his father s confidential secretary and represen 
tative. He was not unacquainted with the routine of the 
harvester business, having in his first year at work been 
entrusted with the monumental task of getting an Apple- 
by-designed McCormick binder into immediate produc 
tion. He had been in Europe in the interests of the busi 
ness, had learned to take life seriously because his father 
would have it so, and had already proved himself to have 
a calmer, more adaptable point of view than the man who 
had fought and won the war of the reapers. And yet the 
son, who was designed by nature for peaceful ways, was to 
be called to lead his organization through such a fight as 
the father had never known. 

The younger McCormick also had as his best ally the 
unfaltering support of his mother. Had she lived in other 


Wife of the inventor 
From a photograph made about 1870 


times, Nettie F. McCormick would have headed the busi 
ness herself, or done any one of those things which women 
now do because they are not merely respected, but are 
more nearly accorded their deserts. Less than fifty years 
old in that day, she had been her husband s right hand 
through half of his business life. Faithful to his every 
point of view, she had made his interests her own. Re 
nowned for her beauty throughout the courts of Europe, 
strong in the councils of men, sweet in her understanding 
of human problems, wise in her farsightedness and knowl 
edge of affairs, she was everything she should have been 
to be the wife of a pioneer and a leader herself a great 

There were few details of the growing business that 
escaped her. Her correspondence is full of business wis 
dom beyond the usual interest of women. Consider also 
one entry in my father s diary, noting an interview he and 
the general manager of the company had with her at Rich 
field Springs, New York: Butler and I talked with 
Mother about (i) Pearson Twine Mill question; (2) 
Indianapolis investment in land for an office building; (3) 
Proposal to buy a house for B. and his family; (4) Lawsuit 
against Farwell, etc. ; (5) Proposition to buy an interest or 
whole ownership of coal lands at Des Moines, Iowa. 

American business grew up because its captains, of 
whom she certainly was one, were not afraid of the details 
of their affairs. All her life she thus concerned herself with 
the bricks of the rising structure of the McCormick 
family business. Even in her last years, I have many 
times seen her sons go into secret council with her over 
some matter that troubled them. At the time of her 
funeral in 1923, many of her personal friends could find 
no room in the church it was filled with the Harvester 
associates whom she loved. 


In 1884, there were many pressing issues to solve. 
There was the matter of the Marquis L. Gorham patents, 
which anticipated the Applcby twine-binding device in 
certain respects and had taken on new importance after 
Gotham s death. McCormick paid Mrs. Gorham $100,000 
for them, added them to a pool of patents, and sold 
manufacturing rights to all competitors. The young 
president also settled the Gordon case for an infringe 
ment upon rights owned by the Gordon brothers and 
IX M. Osborne. Because it was feared that the check 
for $225,000 in settlement of the claim might be photo 
graphed and used for hostile advertisement, the McCor 
mick attorneys paid the account in small bills. Mr. Os 
borne stayed late to count the money, carried the satchel 
containing it to his hotel for the night, lugged it back to 
Auburn, and there enjoyed what triumph he could by 
exhibiting it to his men. 

During the decade from 1885 to 1895, the implement 
manufacturers gave much attention to experimental 
work on freak types of machines. There was the McCor 
mick center-draft mower which, in theory but not in prac 
tice, had less side-draft than the standard mower; and a 
steel binder cut down to weigh less than thirteen hundred 
pounds, which tested well in its trials, but proved too 
fragile for actual field use. William N. Whitely rebelled 
when he was asked to pay royalties under the Gorham 
patents and worked assiduously on a complicated, deli 
cate machine dubbed The Strassburg Clock by his 
rivals. Later on, there were numberless attempts to build 
a low-down grain binder to obviate the necessity of 
elevating the grain over the main wheel McCormick 
actually began production of what was called a bincllo- 
chine/ and, when it gave evidence of failure, put forth 
another attempt called a tylochine, Deering gave much 


attention to one named The Prairie Chicken, but it 
never got out of the experimental room. 

The most noteworthy of the many freak eff orts was Mo 
Cormick s nearly successful attempt to swing the trade to 
a right-hand binder. Except for the accident of the 
reaper tradition, there is no reason why the cutter bar of a 
grain binder should extend to the left of the main wheel. 
The platform on all modern tractor-drawn apparatus pro 
jects naturally to the right, as does the bar of a mower ; but 
since its inception the standard binder has cut to the left. 
As competition grew keener, it seemed to be imperative to 
have new features to talk about, hence the effort to build 
freak machines. In the middle Nineties, McCormick sud 
denly and without warning swung its binder production 
to right-hand harvesters. So great was the pressure of 
the McCormick sales organization that for a time it ap 
peared as if the effort would succeed ; but to save them 
selves the competitors all leagued against it and invented 
arguments to answer those invented by the newly con 
verted adherents of right-hand harvesting. McCormick 
might be the leading company, but it could not quite pre 
vail against the united resistance of all its rivals; and so, 
in a year or two, it gave over the attempt. 

All this experimental effort quite naturally involved an 
enormous number of field trials. Matters of design had 
not yet been at all reduced to a science, and many of the 
new features that were rushed into production and then 
out to the trade gave the salesmen some momentary vocal 
advantage. But the improvements were often so hastily 
prepared that they could not be developed. When a 
mistake was made, it was incumbent on the territorial 
experts to correct it in the field. No one could afford to 
admit failure; or, perhaps, acute salesmanship would 
conceal a mechanical defect. Every company grasped 


at any straw anything that seemed to promise some 
advantage over competitors. Therefore, the managers of 
the harvesting machine companies were continually in 
the field checking the operation of new devices. 

The idea of private field tests and public trials was 
inherent in the McCormick business psychology. All 
through the sales force there existed the dominant belief 
that if they could once get their beloved machine in the 
field, it would easily demonstrate its superiority. Thus, at 
the time of the World s Columbian Exposition, when the 
jury wished to make awards without taking the exhibits 
into grain or grass, the McCormick protest was so vehe 
ment that tests were hastily organized. Perhaps one 
reason for this was that the whole McCormick organiza 
tion, out of its sixth sense for the niceties of selling, 
may have been more experimental-minded than its com 
petitors. At all events, there never was a harvest in all 
the years between 1884 and 1902 when Cyrus H. Mc- 
Cormick s diary fails to record trips to the field to follow 
new work. Even in 1902, when he went to New York in 
midsummer to participate in the formation of the Inter 
national Harvester Company, we find him, three days 
after the signing of the papers, on an Illinois farm, calmly 
and as usual attending tests of tedders, rakes, and new 
types of binder knottcrs. 

McCormick and Deering corn binders were first heard 
of publicly at the Chicago World s Fair, but none were 
sold until 1895. The addition of the new implement, a 
vital factor in so wide a district, was an important event 
for the field force. Numberless new claims of superiority 
could be made, numberless new field trials could be staged 
to prove them. There is an amusing story of the introduc 
tion of the rival machines into Iowa which I quote from 
the report of the McCormick salesman who was there, 
anxiously awaiting the hour of the public trial : 


Eldest son of the inventor 


.We naturally thought we would do the better work, and even 
to this day I think we did; but that made no difference the 
selection of the judges was what counted. The Deering fellows 
chose a man by the name of Mclntosh, who was a gentleman 
farmer in the summer and an evangelist preacher in the winter. 
Needless to say, our judge was well primed before the contest. 
The third man was picked right on the ground the day of the 
show. They thought they had us, but they placed too much 
confidence in their man Mclntosh. That morning, before we 
went out to the field, I got hold of him and had a long talk with 
him about corn binders, explaining the superior merits of the 
McCormick over the Deering. I was accustomed to selling 
goods to farmers in those days and was able to convince him 
that he had made a mistake in lining up with the Deering fel 
lows. He promised me with both hands up that he was well 
sold and that he would stick. He stuck. When the judges were 
asked to decide the contest, our man voted for us, the third 
man voted for Deering, and Mclntosh said the McCormick 
was the best machine. My own opinion is that he was lucky he 
got away with his life that night. 

The opportunity for feats of this kind is not necessarily 
one-sided. A few years before this corn-binder trial there 
was a village which may as well be nameless - peopled 
largely with German Catholics. They were building a new 
church, and the Deering traveler was invited fay his 
dealer to donate to the funds, inasmuch as the McCormick 
traveler had prevailed upon his company to give $20. So 
the traveler and the dealer wrote to Mr. William Deer 
ing about the matter and, because he was a strict Method 
ist, also dropped the hint that McCormick was selling 
more machines in the district than all other companies 
combined. By return mail they received Mr. Deering s 
check for $250. So when the church was dedicated, the 
priest exhibited the check and made some very compli 
mentary remarks about our very good friend, Mr. Wil 
liam Deering, of Chicago/ 


As it so happened, the annual village picnic took place 
a few days later, and the helpful traveler lavishly bought 
beer for his friends and (following the usual practice of 
those days) for potential customers as well. After a time 
excitement reigned and a song was extemporized, the re 
frain of which had something to do with McCormick $20, 
Deering $250. The salesman took orders for twelve 
binders and thought it legitimate to add an item to his 
expense account, Beer, $io/ But the auditor in Chicago 
was conversant with Mr. Deering s personal antipathy to 
alcohol and wrote coldly for an explanation. 

The dealer helped the traveler compose a complete 
narrative of the whole affair from the clay the letter was 
sent asking for a donation to the new church. A some 
what reserved reply advised that under the circumstances 
the charge could stand, but that no item showing that it 
was for beer would ever again be allowed. On each annual 
picnic day thereafter through the years there was an item 
on the traveler s expense account, Sundries, $io/ No 
explanation was ever asked and Deering continued to 
outsell McCormick. 

These were what might be called practical rather than 
theoretical methods of distribution. They illustrate the 
finer side of the old art of salesmanship, for one cannot so 
effectively change a man s convictions unless one has faith 
one s self. The framework of the modern sales system had 
been completed by then and the stream of implement 
supply was supposed to flow from the company general 
agency through the dealer to the farmer. But the satura 
tion point of natural absorption had been reached about 
1890, and the production capacities of the sixteen larger 
companies fighting for the business was far in excess of the 
normal demand. The jobber had already disappeared in 
the face of the desire of the companies to own their own 


branches and thus get closer to the ultimate consumer. 
Such a system of distribution tied up much invested capi 
tal in property and stocks of machines and bore heavily 
on treasuries which were none too robust. The better 
companies with the most easily salable product required 
at least one hundred and fifty dollars of capital to do one 
hundred dollars of annual business, while many of the 
smaller organizations needed two hundred dollars. They 
all had to try to find ways of increasing their volume to 
help carry the load. Hence it was that convincing sales 
men of the type of the Deering blockman, or of him who 
persuaded Mclntosh to stick, were in demand. 

The rank and file of the McCormick field force were 
past masters at the art of salesmanship, and it may be 
that many of the extreme methods practiced upon them 
(they soon learned to give back as much as they had to 
take) were a direct reaction from their success. An ex- 
Deering general agent has told me how hopeless it was for 
him to go against the pressure of four surrounding Mc 
Cormick branches especially since time was to choose 
two International Harvester presidents and one vice 
president from among the four. Frequently, even, this 
expert sales pressure proved stronger than the company 
itself had anticipated and the demand for goods was 
larger than the company could supply. Deering pos 
sessed the complementary advantage of a far-seeing man 
ufacturing policy and was willing to take chances by 
making machines further in advance. It is also possible 
that Deering more accurately estimated the great future 
growth the industry was to experience, partly on account 
of the general revival of business following the McKinley 
election in 1896, and partly as a result of the sales pressure 
exerted by all of the companies in general and by Mc 
Cormick in particular. 


The McCormick ability to sell goods originated largely 
in an unswerving adherence to the principle of getting out 
into the territory to look for business. The first agents 
established throughout the West were usually stationed in 
county towns where farmers would congregate to attend 
to their legal and commercial affairs. Before 1890, there 
were few railways other than transcontinental lines, and 
it would have been purposeless to establish a network 
of dealers who could not be reached. Thus the county 
agent, as he was called, came to foci he had a monopoly 
on the business in his district; and, furthermore, he was 
accustomed to having the farmers come in from the coun 
try and seek him out. As the network of railways spread 
across the West, outlying communities began to be de 
veloped, agents in smaller towns could be reached, and the 
harvesting-machine business began to drift into the hands 
of men who would go out after it. It is perhaps needless 
to say that as soon as a railway penetrated a new district, 
one of the first passengers to alight at a hitherto isolated 
community was a McCormick representative looking for 
a dealer. 

The McCormick Company had in previous years built 
up the best force of county agents, but by 1890 they had 
become an outworn institution. Harvesting-machinery 
distribution could not be fostered by a stay-at-home dealer 
waiting in his store for business to come to him. More 
intensive local distribution was demanded. The only 
type of dealer acceptable to the McCormick traveler was 
one who would canvass every inch of his territory as 
aggressively as could be clone before the advent of the 
motor-car. Thus again, as in the early days of the reaper, 
the ever-efficient triumvirate of pioneer agriculture, 
aggressive local commerce, and an able industrial policy 
working from afar, was collaborating to develop farm life 
on the prairies. 


The former methods of advertising, such as catalogues, 
testimonials, and lists of available prospects, were broad 
ened to suit the new situation. Propaganda which de 
pended on innuendo and inference as much as upon direct 
statement was introduced. Thus, Deering made much of 
a supposed history of the reaper, minimizing or omitting 
the 1831 invention. McCormick s reply was a direct ap 
peal to public opinion. Here, for example, is a picture of 
one of the first of the * delivery days which soon became a 
regular part of farm implement propaganda: 

Every man who bought one of our machines was to take de 
livery of it on the same day. He was to bring in his family to 
town and we were to give them all a good dinner and a good big 
day, and the machines were all to be put in line on the street. 
We had three hundred McCormick binders in the procession. 
It was a beautiful day, as fine as the Lord ever made. I hired 
three bands and put big banners and streamers across the 
street. I put five or six beautiful floats in the parade and rode 
myself in a big two-seated carriage. I guess I was a bigger man 
that day in Carroll than the President of the United States. I 
gave the town about the biggest day of its history. I engaged 
all the Ladies Aid Societies to cook the dinner, hired the thea 
ter, gave them a nice little vaudeville turn, and made a speech 
which the audience was good enough to applaud I presume 
because I was paying for it! 

Business methods of this kind are perhaps highly 
picturesque and they are legitimate, judged even by the 
standards of these more conservative days. Neverthe 
less, they represent the type of salesmanship which put 
all competitors and all dealers too much on their mettle to 
get business. Therefore, before the harvester war ended 
with the formation of the International Harvester Com 
pany, competition changed from hard rivalry to unending 
strife. Salesmanship became a brave but vicious battle in 
which it was deemed that loyalty to one s company de- 


manded that organized hate be the order of the day. 
Friendships were broken ; rivals refused to drink a glass at 
the same bar; any means that would down a competitor 
was considered legitimate; prices were slaughtered in 
discriminately and without regard to profits; funds were 
squandered on senseless attempts to prove superiority; 
and business was habitually conducted in a way that 
brought the industry to the verge of bankruptcy. The 
final result of the harvester war was to be consolidation 
or destruction. 

> It is not necessary to infer that, officially, there ever 
was such a period as that which I have called the harvester 
war, any more than there ever was an officially admitted 
feud between McCormick and Hussey or McCormick and 
Manny. But the inventor s correspondence bristles with 
enough hostility toward these two men, and indeed to 
ward all those competitors who he believed had trans 
gressed upon his private preserve, to have permitted com 
mentators to characterize the business quarrels of the 
early days as the xvar of the reapers. Similarly, however 
suave the official record may seem, the recollections of the 
men who were engaged in the harvesting-machine business 
in the Nineties bristle with enough charge and counter 
charge, attack and defensive-offensive, cut and thrust, to 
have characterized a dozen decent military engagements. 
Like produces like. The harvester men of the middle 
period were skilled in that kind of training they had re 
ceived from their warring predecessors. Their descend 
ants of to-day have, with different and more cultivated 
weapons, fought as bitter, though not as dreadful, a 
battle. I have no compunction in calling the record of 
those years a harvester war. 

Perhaps, if the device of the field test had never been 
propounded, there would not have been any harvester 


war; but then this story would have been less picturesque. 
In former times it had been McCormick and Hussey who 
stormed England and captured columns in the press for 
their arena. Now it was McCormick versus Deering or 
McCormick versus Champion or Milwaukee or Wood or 
some one else. Always, it was McCormick, the great ex 
ponent of salesmanship^ on one side, and some one else on 
the other striving to take away the leadership which Mc 
Cormick possessed. The war was certainly severe; but 
the men of to-day s old guard are willing to remember 
those years as the good old days/ Much benefit in 
cluding Harvester Spirit and present-day service to farm 
ers came out of them, so perhaps they need not be 

Take Whitely, for example, who for a time after the 
death of Cyrus Hall McCormick performed such prodigi 
ous acts that he was called The Reaper King/ His chief 
feat, which won him his first fame, was to hitch himself in 
the place of a horse and himself pull one of his mowers to 
prove its light draft. Perhaps he had heard of the deeds 
of one of the brothers Marsh, who once, unaided, bound 
an acre of grain in fifty-five minutes to demonstrate the 
simplicity of the early harvester. It was men of this type, 
men like the first Crusaders, who not only led their fol 
lowers into war, but themselves swung the heaviest battle- 
axe, who made field tests spectacular. They even devised 
the ultimate test of merit in which two reapers, chained 
together back to back, were pulled apart to prove their 

Concerning the field tests of the Nineties, when the rest 
of the harvesting-machine world was trying to wrest from 
McCormick the supremacy it had won, a former factory 
repair man writes : No friendly rivalry out on the firing 
line lots of dirty tricks pulled off, tinkering with rival 


machines at night. Many a pitched battle I have heard 
the field men tell about. Who won the field trials? Why, 
Deering, I suppose; at least, I never heard of any one else 
winning! They were loyal to their cause, those men of 

There is the story of Champion s great effort with a 
new mower, produced in 1899, when it challenged all 
comers and laid down the rule that the machines striving 
for the prize were to be operated by a competitor s em 
ployee, driven against a solid post, and were then to cut 
grass. McCormick took up the challenge and we were 
the only competitor who did. Our first go was at Clare, a 
little town in Webster County, Iowa. We had an expert 
named Dan who was a fearless fellow. When he drove 
their mower against the post, the cutter bar bent right 
back between the wheels. He drove the team with such 
speed against the post that it broke the shoe and they 
nearly went mad. Their driver broke the pole off our 
machine, and there were the two machines practically 
a wreck/ 

Such tests may seem ridiculous in the light of to-day s 
practices which seek to keep machinery in order and to 
prove its worth by operation; but to-day s are not the 
means of the good old days when competing salesmen 
sought to sell machines by direct methods. There is the 
tale of a farmer who, to his sorrow, let it be known in a 
group of machine men that he was a prospect for a grain 
binder. So persistent were they in their clamoring for at 
tention that the poor man was soon constrained to seek 
refuge in a hotel room. When the slight protection of a 
locked door availed him nothing against the swarm of 
canvassers, he jumped out of the window. 

In truth, the field men of the competing companies 
could not be restrained by such a thing as company regu- 


lations when they were out after business. Policies were 
swayed by an army of fighters to whom results were the 
only test. Competition grew so severe and unbusiness 
like that the members of the leading organizations be 
came enemies, not in a personal sense, but, like soldiers, 
believing that the thing had to be done. Anything the 
old-time men could do to the other fellow to knock him 
out was considered legitimate. At one time the various 
company presidents issued a joint order, over their own, 
well-recognizable signatures, to cease the breaking-up of 
competitors 7 sales but the fight went on. 

It became customary for a farmer who had bought one 
make of binder to receive a call from the salesman of an 
other company, who would then seek to convince him of 
the futility of ever expecting to gather his harvest with 
the make of implement he had just acquired. If the sales 
man was a good talker and most of them were the 
farmer would be persuaded to haul the first implement 
back to town on some charge of poor operation and buy 
the rival. There is a bizarre tale of a farmer who bought 
one type, but woke up next morning to find quite another 
make standing in his yard and his own purchase nowhere 
to be seen. In a certain district, even, a wrecking crew 
was maintained to tamper with rival machines and create 
dissatisfaction with their performance. 

To illustrate the combination of true commercial fight 
ing worth and the uneconomic ridiculousness of un 
bridled competition, I repeat a rather long story of what 
happened after a certain McCormick binder had been 
sold not far from Pomeroy, Iowa. The story comes from 
the general agent who fought that day for the honor of his 
cause : 

Our dealer telegraphed me that Champion had pulled into 
the same field where he had sold an eight-foot McCormick 


binder and that the situation was desperate, as they were try 
ing to break up our sale. When I got there, the farmer was in 
trouble with our machine, and the Champion boys had put 
plenty of poison in him about me. He was swearing loudly and 
wouldn t speak to me, so I waited. When I got a chance I 
talked to him mildly, which seemed to surprise him after the 
reputation as a bluffer those fellows had given me. I showed 
him where his four-horse eveners were not put on right, with 
the result that two horses were pulling the whole load. Finally 
I got the eveners fixed and loosened up the compressor so the 
machine worked satisfactorily. But Champion had made him 
some kind of a special price; also, they had notified every pur 
chaser of a McCormick binder in the neighborhood to come 
and see this binder fail, with a view of getting them to cancel 
their McCormick orders. 

I pointed out to the farmer that the Champion was a six-foot 
cut against our eight, and showed him that even so the Cham 
pion was not taking a full cut. The crop was barley, and it had 
crinkled down and lay like a crow s nest. The soil was an old 
peat bog that had burned, and now it was a very slippery job. I 
had my work cut out for me to make the eight-foot binder oper 
ate without choking. So that night I got up at three o clock, 
drove out to the farm and woke the farmer up. He was dressed 
only in his old hickory shirt that he had been wearing the previ 
ous day, because pajamas and nightgowns were not yet fash 
ionable in his neighborhood. He put on his pants and came out 
to the barn and we had a long talk. I gave him such a sales talk 
he was absolutely convinced the McCormick machine was the 
one he wanted. No difference what the Champion would be 
able to do next day, it was settled. 

Well, a big crowd of machine men had come to the hotel that 
night and the Deering fellows said they would come in too and 
show us both up. There were at least one hundred and fifty 
farmers there, and the Deering was the first to start. They had 
a brand-new machine and four big gray horses, and the horses 
and the machine were decorated with little flags. But when the 
first bundle of tangled barley came through the binder, it 
choked and the bull wheel buried itself in the slippery soil and 
they were done. The farmer was driving our binder himself and 
was having no trouble, although I am not prepared to say 


whether he cut a full eight feet all the way around or not. But 
the Champion dealer got a handful of straw and tried to put 
it secretly on our elevator chains, to prove his claim that our 
chains would pull grain out of our open elevator and wind it 
around the sprockets. I grabbed him by the neck and he fell 
down in the stubble. Then the Champion fellows started for 
me, but somebody got between us. They started to abuse the 
farmer, who was a big, powerful man, and he struck the Cham 
pion dealer. His old father stopped the fight. But the contest 
broke up in a row, and they left in disgrace without having 
driven us from the field. 

That general agent has, with the passing of time, gained 
a different perspective on the feats of his younger, more 
embattled years. He ends thus his account of what must 
have been an ofttimes repeated skirmish : 

This story is related simply to give an idea of the expense of 
doing business in those days and to what silly lengths excessive 
competition led us in those ridiculous fights. I suppose we were 
just a product of those times. 

There can be no question that under such a system the 
cost of making a sale was high. Sometimes two rival 
general agents would rouse themselves to battle and, re 
gardless of instructions from the home office, would slash 
prices in a progressive and widening effort to get the 
upper hand of a competitor. In Grand Rapids in 1899, f r 
example, grain binders were sold for half the standard 
wholesale price. It should be remarked that the Mc- 
Cormick men now say they then invariably acted on the 
defensive. But if I know them at all, their defense of their 
traditional leadership was vigorous, to say the least. 

Another tale suggests how unfavorably this inordinate 
pressure to sell machines t must have affected credits, A 
harvesting-machine man was driving through an isolated 
part of Nebraska and saw a new Milwaukee binder in a 


friend s yard. Knowing this farmer had no grain at all to 
cut, the traveler stopped to inquire. The farmer had 
wanted a hammer and a wrench and had no money to buy 
them nor any credit; so he bought the binder, all on time, 
to get the tool box ! 

It must not be thought that business excesses of this 
kind were perpetrated by a horde of city-bred, factory- 
trained men who did not know farming conditions. The 
members of the harvesting-machine field armies were 
recruited in the country and themselves supplied the 
material from which the executive staffs of another 
business generation were drawn. Many a lowly expert/ 
announcing himself proudly to the farmers as a factory 
man, was a farmer boy who had shown himself capable of 
remedying his own mechanical troubles. Machinery was 
a mysterious thing to farmers, and an owner s diagnosis 
of trouble was usually wrong. Hence the invariably neces 
sary practice of fixing the farmer first. Nevertheless, 
the mechanical success of the experts was, on the whole, 
remarkable. They fought the harvester war as bitterly 
and as blithely as did the salesmen and they believed as 
profoundly in the innate justice of their particular cause. 
Witness, for example, the expert known across Ontario 
for his skill who, un tactfully but loyally, interrupted a 
farmer s complaint with Aw you don t know what th 
hell you re talking about. This machine was made by the 
best company in the world and was made to work and it 
will work. Let me get at it ! 

The methods of the harvester war were unquestion 
ably undesirable. They can be excused only because the 
generation which developed them to the wildest extent 
had inherited the spirit of warfare from revered forbears. 
They were not countenanced by the heads of the Mc- 
Cormick or Deering or other companies, but they were, 


nevertheless, a tribute to the loyalty which those leaders 
inspired in their men. It was not merely ambition which 
led those old boys through sacrifice to beat one another 
to a sale, or into subterfuge to defeat a competitor. The 
men of the old companies never cared to meet a rival 
socially, and they would willingly neglect their private 
lives to advance the interests of their house. Many of 
them have gone ahead and some are still active in posi 
tions of high responsibility. But it was not chance for 
promotion that inspired them to endure the rigors of 
the furious days of bitter competition it was loyalty. 
Loyalty builds character and it is also possible that 
out of the strife of the good old days there has come, by 
reaction from the practices of the past, much that is most 
desirable in the methods of the present. 

The leaders who were directing the marshaling of the 
harvesting-machine armies between 1884 and 1902 knew 
very well that such competition as they saw going on 
around them could not but prove disastrous to their 
business. The idea of amalgamation was first broached 
between Cyrus Hall McCormick and William Deering 
before the former s death, but nothing came of purely ten 
tative conversations. The temper of the first generation 
of harvester men was too individualistic. The records of 
1885 are full of accounts of meetings called to consider 
consolidation and adjourned with nothing done. Mc 
Cormick stood on one side for individual activities, Deer- 
ing did not then participate in the discussions, and the 
smaller companies were urging consolidation or, at least, 
some understanding on prices. In 1888, there were other 
meetings from which McCormick kept away. Late in 
1890, the first consolidation, the American Harvester 
Company, was born. 

At that time all the harvester companies bought their 


knives and cutting sections from the Whitman, Barnes 
Company, of Akron, Ohio. Its president, Colonel A. L. 
Conger, conceived the idea of a grand consolidation of all 
existing producers of harvesting machinery in which his 
own little organization would be preserved. So, as he 
went around to call on his customers, he propounded his 
plan and finally persuaded each of them to set a price on 
his property. Thus, in December, 1890, the many com 
petitors found themselves all members, for the moment, 
of the same family. Cyrus H. McCormick was president, 
William Deering was chairman of the board of directors, 
E. K. Butler, general manager of the McCormick Com 
pany, held a similar position in the new organization, and 
minor offices were apportioned among the other com 

The scrambled executives met in the Champion build 
ing in Chicago. It soon became a matter of interesting 
inquiry how the new company was to find money to pay 
the fantastic valuations on the old properties accepted 
without appraisal by Conger. There was also immediate 
and widespread public opposition to this trust 1 as being 
an effort to flout the recently passed Sherman Law. It was 
also whispered about in the office that the widow of the 
late inventor of the reaper would not willingly see his 
name submerged in the new company. Finally, there was 
no operating plan nor, most disastrous of all, was there 
any operating capital. 

The American Harvester Company died in January, 
1891, when Cyrus H. McCormick and William Deering 
went to New York for advice. They found that the bank 
ers whom they consulted were cold to the new company 
and were unwilling to provide the necessary financing. 
The two Chicago men were sharing a hotel parlor, where, 
late at night, McCormick was pondering the situation. As 


he sat alone, the door of Deering s room opened. Clad 
only in his nightshirt, the old gentleman walked in and 
stood before the fireplace, his hands locked behind his 
back, and his fine face grave with concern. 

McCormick/ he said at last, are these other fellows 
trying to make the two of us carry water for them? 

It looks that way to me ! 

1 All right, let s go home and call it off/ 

I agree/ said the younger man and both went to 
bed and slept soundly for the first time in nights, secure 
again in the unimpaired possession of their own sound 

The next endeavor to effect a consolidation in the 
harvesting-machine industry did not take place for sev 
eral years. In the meantime competitive strife waxed, 
and certain of the smaller companies, which had com 
pleted the abortive roster of the American Harvester 
Company, had gone the way of all weak contestants in a 
struggle which tested the souls of the strongest. McCor- 
mick and Deering were all the time standing out more 
clearly as the leading antagonists; and in 1897 they very 
nearly solved by themselves the problem of their rivalry. 
It was then proposed that the McCormicks should buy 
out the Deerings, who were willing to retire. A purchase 
price for the entire business was agreed on, an option was 
taken, and Cyrus H. McCormick and his brother Harold 
started out to try to find the money. Perhaps they were 
financially inexperienced, or perhaps their figures did not 
sufficiently set forth the probable benefits of consolida 
tion. At all events, they were unable to get the necessary 
money together before their option on the Deering busi 
ness expired. 

An opportunity which must then have seemed priceless 
thus vanished and the harvester war went on. It was dur- 


ing the period immediately following 1897 that the great 
est Deering effort to overhaul McCormick was made. 
Deering anticipated McCormick in making hay rakes, 
binder twine, knives and other cutting apparatus, and 
malleable castings, and in the construction of a rolling 
mill. It was planning a Canadian factory, a blast fur 
nace, and the acquisition of ore and timber reserves. A 
successful radical anticipation of sales requirements had 
been allowing it to fill orders after McCormick had sold 
out its stocks of machines. All in all, the Deerings were 
closing the gap that separated them from the leader in 
the race 

It was mutually apparent that on the competitive basis 
then existing, Deering could not afford to go on expanding 
nor could McCormick secure enough capital to build or 
buy a steel mill of its own and provide production facili 
ties to repel the Deering drive. Expansion in the foreign 
field, where McCormick stood first, was expensive; and 
Deering could not afford to try to catch up, nor could Mc 
Cormick further extend itself. Business was still reason 
ably profitable for the two leaders, but the added returns 
from the much greater volume of the last two or three 
years was nowhere near in proportion to the growth. 
Even for them the harvester war was disastrous. 



IN JUNE, 1902, the president of the McCormick Har- 
yesting Machine Company went to New York to seek 
the aid of the House of Morgan. He had for some time 
been viewing with apprehension the growing competitive 
strength of Deering. It would matter comparatively little 
to the trade if the weaker companies failed to live through 
the bitter war of the last decade. If Wood or Johnson or 
Acme went down, that would not lighten the burden of 
those who bore the responsibilities of leadership. Deering 
was the rival McCormick had to fear McCormick was 
the leader whose place Deering was trying to occupy. 

In the case of both these companies there was more to 
fight for than the victory of the moment. One of them 
had a history to defend, the long tradition of a leadership 
that had lasted for sixty years. There was a reputation 
to preserve that had been won in the bitter battles of in 
dustrial evolution. The family business was a memorial 
to its founder. It was in the hands of men who were living 
out of and by Cyrus Hall McCormick s ideals. It was 
supervised by the kindly figure of his widow whom the new 
generation adored, whether they were young gladiators or 
whether they were the scarred survivors of the army he 
himself had trained. One and all loved her because they 
saw in her the living manifestation of him who had planned 
their destinies. In the case of the Deering Company 
there was an honorable record of commercial success to 
uphold and the triumphant memory of twenty years of 
increasing challenge to the old leader. Those two decades 


of harvester experience had taught it the rules of the 
rough-and-tunible of competition, had bestowed upon it 
the atmosphere of respect which weaker men hold for the 
brains of giants, had proved that adroitness and clever 
planning and skill were nearly a match for tradition and 
the intangible power which always goes with leadership. 

Three times McCormick and Deering had met around 
a table, three times their peace conferences had failed, 
three times they had gone out to renewed battle. Re 
cently Deering had been exhibiting new tactics. Since the 
frontal attack gave no promise of final success, new 
strategy was being tried. The field of raw materials was 
being explored, Deering built a rolling mill near his plant 
where old railway rails and other steel could be reworked 
into the special shapes and sizes demanded for harvester 
manufacture. He had acquired a controlling interest in a 
South Chicago blast furnace, iron ore deposits on the 
Mesaba Range, and Kentucky coal lands, which gave 
evidence of his intention to produce his own iron and 
steel. He bought hardwood forests in Missouri and yellow 
pine in Mississippi. If he could himself provide his own 
iron, steel, and lumber, the basic raw materials of the 
agricultural implement industry, he might be able to re 
duce the material cost of his machines. He had long since 
shown himself to be a most worthy manufacturing foe- 
man and by this time his factory was more self-contained 
than McCormick s. 

The McCormick Company s greater genius lay in the 
sales field. Its selling system, pioneered by the founder of 
the business a half-century before, kept it supreme. But 
now McCormick wanted to do as Deering had done, to ac 
quire raw material resources and develop its factories ; and 
it desired to expand further in foreign countries where 
Deering was not as strongly represented. But capital was 


lacking. So, to get money for the sinews of the battles of 
the future, Cyrus H. McCormick went to New York. 

Quietly, unannounced, armed simply with a letter of 
introduction, trained in the hardest warfare of commerce 
but unskilled in the high science of finance, he ap 
proached George W. Perkins, youngest of the partners of 
J. P. Morgan and Company. He explained his errand, 
and Perkins assured him that the necessary capital could 
easily be secured. Then the financier began to ask ques 
tions about the harvester business, its backgrounds, the 
companies engaged in it, their strength, the ability of 
their leaders, the value of their properties and products, 
the chances for further development at home and abroad. 
For hours the two men talked. Before McCormick left, 
Perkins inquired if by any chance he cared to merge his 
business in a larger company in which the McCormick 
business would be the dominating element. 

A week later they met again, and Perkins was given the 
voluminous data prepared for the most recent effort at 
consolidation. At the same time he announced that the 
Morgan firm might find it interesting itself to enter the 
harvester business, and asked how he might go about it 
to buy the assets of the Milwaukee Harvester Company, 
whose ruling dynasty had become extinct. That day, 
when McCormick left, Perkins invited him to return in 
July for an extended series of conferences. A third time 
McCormick went back to New York. For three weeks, 
through the blistering heat of a Manhattan summer, he 
and his attorneys lived in their hotel and received fre 
quent calls from Perkins. The banker went rapidly from 
one to another of the groups of harvesting-machine men 
whom he had invited to New York, pointing out the ad 
vantages of consolidation and settling the basic princi 
ples. My father has said that Perkins was the most 


brilliant negotiator he ever met. He and the other 
Chicagoans knew little of the fine details of finance, 
nothing intimately of Perkins and yet in three weeks 
the banker won the confidence of all of them, merged 
their businesses, and accomplished the one thing they 
knew would be their salvation, though they had tried 
in vain for eleven years to effect it consolidation. 

The harvester men met together for the first time 
around a Morgan conference table in late July. Perkins 
talked again of the benefits to them and to their custom 
ers of a consolidated industry, of economies in manufactur 
ing and in distribution, of foreign fields waiting to be de 
veloped. He talked of his proposed financial structure and 
the new conquests of new fields of endeavor that would 
result. He talked so well and painted such a rosy picture 
of the future that his listeners almost forgot their ancient 
differences and were willing to try to be friends. 

There can be no question but that self-preservation lay 
uppermost in the minds of the company presidents who 
sat around that table. The evils of the harvester war 
were fresh in their troubled minds. But there were many 
other cogent reasons why the International Harvester 
Company should be formed. The competitive methods of 
the Nineties were not only murderous, but wasteful in the 
extreme and detrimental to retail agent and consumer as 
well as to manufacturer. Farmers had bought enormous 
quantities of harvesting machinery in 1902 from the five 
organizations, more than they really needed. The pres 
sure of salesmanship was such that the harvester com 
panies were forcing more implements on the public than 
it had any occasion to buy. A machine which might 
have lasted for nearly ten years was declared obsolete in 
less than five; and the farmer s bill for new equipment was 
beyond all reason not because of the price per unit, 


which was ruinously low, but because of the many units 
needlessly sold. The local dealers were crippled by their 
own numbers. Competition had decreed that all over the 
United States, in every town, at every crossroads, there 
must be a McCormick or a Deering dealer. The three 
other companies were less widely represented ; but they, 
too, had flung as far as possible the array of their dis 
tributors. More than forty thousand dealers across the 
land were too many. None of them could grow, none 
could become prosperous, none could do more than imi 
tate in his own neighborhood the feud methods of the 
big companies. They fought, too, and their fall was even 
more rapid. 

The big companies did not realize clearly that they 
were producing and selling more machines than the trade 
could absorb. They felt that if normal conditions could 
be imposed upon them, they would be able not only to 
make their business profitable, but might expand it as 
well. They were certain that this could be done in the 
foreign field if only they could get the necessary capital 
for expansion. McCormick, and to a lesser extent Deer- 
ing, were both already established abroad, and each was 
in its own way striving to pour out its strength to win in 
Europe and Siberia the victories each was fighting for 
at home. But compared to America, foreign farms were 
underequipped. Branch houses and local agents were 
needed, also stocks of machines and repairs. Trained men 
were required to carry the gospel of mechanized farming 
to struggling peasants. Those were things which capital 
and husbanded strength alone could supply. J. P. Mor 
gan was then in Europe, in touch by cable with the state 
of affairs. His keen mind saw the possibilities of develop 
ments abroad, and it was he who gave the name Inter 
national to the new company. 


The harvester men expected also to accomplish large 
manufacturing and distributing economies out of the 
consolidation which would benefit both stockholders and 
customers. But after the new company was under way, 
they found to their sorrow that the undue sales pressure 
of the days of cut-throat competition had pushed the 
volume beyond all reason. They had to face such a seri 
ous reduction of the volume of production that any hope 
of lower manufacturing or selling costs was vain. In 1903, 
the International Harvester Company did less business 
than the constituent companies had done the year before* 

An immediate benefit resulting from the amalgamation 
was the plan, not originally formulated, but soon to be 
developed, of filling idle factories and curing the abuse 
of part-time operations with various new lines of product. 
When a factory made only such strictly seasonal goods as 
grain binders, twine, mowers, rakes, corn binders, and a 
few other collateral tools, its schedule of operation was 
either up or down, depending upon the weather or the 
fortune of competitive sales efforts. Whole armies of 
workmen had to be dismissed for many months a year; 
the capital invested in factory buildings and expensive 
equipment stood idle too much of the time. It was the 
same in the field. As soon as harvest was over, the best 
salesmen were retained to help with collections, but the 
others were turned loose. By the time winter set in, the 
collectors also were dismissed, and the battalions waited 
in unremunerative idleness until spring. Just how this 
situation might be corrected was not immediately appar 
ent in 1902. There was no expectation that the decline in 
the volume of harvester business would provide factory 
space for new lines which would contribute in later years 
to a steady cycle of manufacturing. However, it was 
obvious that the evil of part-time operation could not 



be cured under the existing circumstances. The future 
profits of the Harvester Company were to come, not from 
any expansion of the old lines/ but from the business to 
be built up in later years in other lines of agricultural im 
plements and in lines of trade that were not even dreamed 
of in the early part of the twentieth century. 

A few days after the worried company presidents had 
heard the last of George W. Perkins brilliant conversa 
tion, on August 12, 1902, they agreed to merge in a new 
type of corporate structure. To steer clear of the anti 
trust clauses of the Sherman Law, Perkins lawyers 
planned to buy, not the stock of the constituent com 
panies themselves, but their physical assets only their 
factories, their warehouses, their properties, and their in 
ventories. For these the companies received $60,000,000. 
Another $50,000,000 of the future capital came from their 
bills and accounts receivable, which, after being guaran 
teed by their owners, were used as cash in payment for 
stock in the new company. Ten millions of stock was 
issued to Morgan for cash. It is interesting to note that, 
when the stipulated appraisement of properties was made 
some months later, the assets for which $60,000,000 was 
paid were found to have an actual value of over $67,000,- 
ooo. There was not one dollar of watered stock in all 
the $120,000,000 capital of the International Harvester 

The estates of the owners of the Milwaukee Company 
received cash for their assets and subscribed to none of 
the new stock. The Champion representatives took cash 
for their factories, but paid for their share of stock with 
their receivables. The Piano people, the Deerings, and 
the McCormicks asked for and received payment en 
tirely in stock. They had confidence in the future. 

The harvester presidents also agreed to tie up the en- 


tire capital for ten years in a voting trust composed of 
Cyrus H. McCormick, the new president, Charles Deer- 
ing, the new chairman of the board of directors, and 
George W. Perkins. For ten years this voting trust was 
to exercise all of the normal powers of stockholders. Its 
nominal purpose was to carry the company through its 
first years and to retain control in the hands of the old 
harvester families. But Perkins had sensed that no Mc 
Cormick and no Deering could long remain at peace with 
each other; and out of that sure difference of opinion and 
objective his brilliant and ever-active mind may have 
planned some form of control for himself. Be that as it 
may, the voting trust served to tide the new company 
over a difficult trial period and to keep it out of the field 
of speculation during its formative years. 

It is not surprising that the formation of the Interna 
tional Harvester Company did not immediately bring 
peace within the battle-scarred ranks of the harvester 
legions. While the July and August conferences were 
continuing in New York, the harvester war was being 
carried on as strenuously as ever on the territory. None 
were in the secret of the consolidation except the chiefs. 
None knew that the lions of to-day were expected to give 
over their carnivorous habits and be the lambs of to 
morrow. When word came that a peace treaty had been 
signed, each side mourned as if in defeat. These men of 
the fighting front had been trained too long in the rigor of 
mortal combat to believe that the feud could be settled in 
any other way than by the survival of the fittest. 

The new organization had been put together in such a 
brief space of time that there had obviously been oppor 
tunity for agreement in principle only. Every detail had 
to be left for subsequent adjudication. This put a heavy 
burden on the executive committee of the directors whose 


duty it was to solve every unsettled problem. Perkins 
had been the arbitrator during the days leading up to the 
consolidation ; and now, when meetings were held either 
in New York or Chicago, he tactfully suggested that the 
interested parties to any intramural dispute endeavor to 
reach a solution by themselves before taking the case 
to the court of last resort. But the property appraisals 
could not be made for months, and even when they 
were complete, there was much natural but happily 
unfounded suspicion of the worth of the figures supplied 
for inventory and other valuations. The new partners 
still had to learn to trust one another and mutual agree 
ment was not easy. 

For a year it was not practical even to put the Com 
pany together physically. Probably it would have been 
impossible to make an instant and yet fair and impersonal 
choice between the offices, warehouses, personnel, and 
business methods which now had to be scrambled. 
Therefore, the component sales organizations were left in 
tact, being simply renamed divisions of the new corpora 
tion. The men of the McCormick, Deering, and other 
battalions were told to cease firing and to cooperate with 
their former foes ; and yet they could see no visible change 
in their situations. Quite naturally each group sought to 
consolidate whatever gains it had made and, to be on the 
safe side, to secure any possible additional advantage 
against the day of reckoning. 

The harvest of 1902 was no more than half over when 
the consolidation was announced. Many machines still 
had to be sold, more had to be delivered to purchasers. 
Field men, who had in the past been trodden upon by 
more powerful competitors, believed their day had come 
and assumed an authority they could not otherwise have 
claimed. General agents, who had formerly had things 


more or less their own way, resented what they considered 
the intrusion of unworthy allies. Each division tried so to 
conduct itself that when the total was rendered, its rela 
tive standing would appear as large as possible. Competi 
tion, somewhat hidden under the guise of corporate rela 
tionship, went on, and, because stepbrothers are prone to 
be jealous rather than friendly, veiled suspicion became 
the order of the day. 

The more or less separate divisions were maintained 
until the end of 1903, by which time the executive manage 
ment was able to get control of the situation. Even in 
Chicago there had been difficulties, which, while they 
have now happily been forgotten, caused much heart 
burning. There was striving for place, there was the 
natural inability of former rivals immediately to see good 
instead of bad in one another, and above all there were 
the scarcely healed scars of the McCormick-Deering duel. 
Many a former partisan found himself serving under an 
erstwhile opponent, and many were the sacrifices de 
manded in the interest of harmony. One eager man went 
to the president with a complaint about the incompetency 
of his recently appointed superior. He was urged to 
remember the need for team-play, to go to bat for his 
organization and make safe hits. 

But, sir, said the anguished partisan, what I m talk 
ing about isn t a hit it s a foul! 

As soon as the physical consolidation could be made 
effective, things began to improve. For ten years the 
affairs of the International Harvester Company remained 
in the ultimate control of the three voting trustees ; and 
the final solution of jealousy-bred, petty friction did not 
come until the flowering of company spirit at the expira 
tion of the voting trust. At the worst, though, the early 
troubles were caused by misplaced faith in ancient ways 


or by an overzealous desire to keep the flag of the old 
house flying. There is something worthy of praise even in 
misdirected loyalty; and the woes of those brief days may 
perhaps be charitably regarded as a tribute to the hardi 
ness of the scarred veterans of the harvester war. It is to 
be regretted that their courage was not rewarded by an 
increasing volume of business. No one had any idea how 
large a portion of the volume had been secured by over- 
persuading the farmer to buy. 

The average number of binders annually sold for the 
five years prior to 1902 was 152,000, whereas for the first 
ten years of the International Harvester Company it was 
91,000. Where an average of 217,000 mowers had been 
marketed, now no more than 170,000 were required. 
Even in 1912, the United States business done in the old 
lines was less than it had been at the time of the creation 
of the organization that was intended to permit the har 
vester business to devote its energies to expansion rather 
than to continued mutual strife! 

This decline of the old harvesting-machine lines con 
tinued during the first ten International Harvester years 
in spite of the fact that the acreage of farmed land and 
the production of grain in the United States were increas 
ing. But the Company s total business prospered at the 
same time from the successive introduction of more and 
more new-line machines, such as harrows, cultivators, 
and cream separators, which one after the other were 
added to the sales catalogue. Soon after 1902, also, the 
sale of steel and fiber became an important part of the 
volume. Most of all, though, the rapidly developing for 
eign business bolstered Harvester s position. 

After 1902, the new capital, new material resources, 
new blood, and the new enthusiasm for foreign activity 
promoted by the consolidation brought about a rapid 


advance in oversea trade. Within four years the foreign 
business doubled. The trade with Russia alone was ap 
proximating the entire export trade of 1902, and South 
America was buying as much agricultural equipment as 
all of Europe had formerly ordered. After ten years the 
Company was widely effective in Great Britain, all over 
western and Central Europe, Russia, South America, the 
Antipodes, and Africa. True to the old traditions, it had 
penetrated into districts where progress was unknown, 
and, in far countries where peasant farmers had never 
dreamed of emancipation, it had developed new business 
by teaching the better methods of mechanized agricul 
ture. American workmen were busy manufacturing ar 
ticles for the farms of prince and peasant alike. American 
salesmen were following along the highway of distant 
commerce pioneered in 1851 by Cyrus Hall McCormick 
when he visited London with his * cross between a flying 
machine, a wheelbarrow, and an Astley chariot. So well 
had they taught the people of other countries the use 
of American harvesting machinery that within ten years 
the Company s foreign trade had increased fivefold. 

The development in the new lines of agricultural equip 
ment was almost as rapid as the growth of the export 
trade. This began with the purchase in 1903 of D. M. 
Osborne & Company, of Auburn, New York. Thus, 
this famous old harvester and tillage business entered 
International Harvester s ranks and the first step in the 
direction of a rounded-out line of machinery was taken. 
The Osborne firm enjoyed a considerable trade in the 
eastern part of the United States and had already de 
veloped a large foreign business ; and its twine mill, situ 
ated near the seaboard, would, it was hoped, prove a valu 
able asset in securing foreign twine trade. It was the larg 
est and strongest among the independent concerns, and, 


since it did a minimum of business in the West, where the 
McCormick versus Deering battle raged most fiercely, its 
strength had been less impaired by the rigor of savage 
competition. Its factory made disk, peg-tooth, and 
spring-tooth harrows, small cultivators, and hay tools, as 
well as the Osborne line of harvesting machinery. In the 
same year the Minnie Harvester plant was acquired in 
connection with an effort to make twine out of American 
flax, which was a natural product of the district around 
St. Paul. 

In 1904, Harvester bought the little Keystone Com 
pany, of Rock Falls, Illinois, and thus acquired an historic 
line of tillage implements and hay tools to supply the 
Western trade. The Weber Wagon Company, of Chicago, 
was taken over and brought a popular wagon into the 
International fold. The Kemp manure spreader was pur 
chased ; and the Akron factories of the defunct Aultman- 
Miller Company were acquired. In all of these cases ex 
cept Osborne the controlling reason was to gain an easy 
access to some line of new business. Osborne was of 
natural interest because of its availability, as an Eastern 
factory not far from Atlantic ports, in the drive to secure 
foreign trade. 

In each of these cases the International Harvester 
Company acquired a going business, an equipped factory 
already in operation, a manufacturing and sales staff, and 
the goodwill of an established position in some portion at 
least of the territory. Of equal importance were the new 
avenues of activity it sought to develop for itself. To 
gain manufacturing economies, the Milwaukee Harvester 
line was moved to McCormick Works and the Piano 
machines were given a home at Deering. An improved 
version of the Kemp manure spreader and a companion 
type of wagon to the Weber were installed in the Piano 


home at West Pullman. Milwaukee was equipped to pro 
duce cream separators and stationary gasoline engines. 
The first of the Company s tractors were assembled in 
1906 in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where trucks and trans 
missions were provided for the Milwaukee-made sta 
tionary engines. The vacated Aultman-Miller shops at 
Akron were devoted to the preliminary production of 
a high-wheeled, air-cooled type of motor truck (known, 
perhaps satirically, as an auto buggy ). This had been 
designed to meet what was thought to be the farmer s 
demand for a motor vehicle of his own type, which, in 
recognition of what was deemed to be his preference, 
must be made as nearly like his horse-drawn buggy in 
appearance as possible. 

Leaving until later a discussion of what this early ex 
cursion into the field of farm power meant to agriculture, 
it may be instructive to examine the broad significance of 
this reaching out into the new lines whose development 
was thus begun. The addition of cultivators and disk 
harrows meant that for the first time a business hereto 
fore dedicated to the harvesting of a crop was to provide 
utensils whose business it was to explore beneath the sur 
face of the ground. As plow-makers have learned to their 
sorrow, soil resistance varies from community to com 
munity and even within any given field. The problem of 
designing moving machinery to withstand stresses and 
strains that can be reasonably predicted in advance is dif 
ficult enough. It involves careful calculation and the long 
tests of experience to determine the relation of applied 
power and desired result. A plow or a cultivator, which has 
to do so much of its work in secret, is simpler by far in 
that it contains fewer moving parts; but a greater knowl 
edge of the strength of materials is required. The robust 
ness of design needed to withstand unexpected shocks was 


a lesson impressed later upon farm-implement makers by 
the necessity of dealing with the tractor s stream of tire 
less power; but the problem of work under the surface 
had its full share in teaching the International Harvester 
Company how better to strengthen its materials in terms 
of cultivating, plowing, listing, and the like. 

Cream separators, stationary engines, and manure 
spreaders were an even better expression of non-harvest 
ing experience. They led the Company directly into 
touch with activities in which the farmer engages for 
many months before and after the gathering of his crops. 
Manure spreaders taught a lesson of scientific farming 
wherein an agriculturist, by means of the provision of 
fertilizer, could draw more yield and therefore more profit 
from the soil. Cream separators opened a way to dairy 
worlds that were entirely set apart from wheat and which 
brought a different psychology into play on farm prob 
lems. The gasoline engine s object was to lighten labor, 
just as the reaper s had been; but its purpose was general 
and not specific. Available power would prove to be the 
key to unlock another door that to the most modern 
type of agriculture. 

And yet the reaper, just as it first solved the problem of 
farm labor, lay in the background behind these newer 
implements. There may seem to be a very slight connec 
tion between the reaper of 1831 and a modern manure 
spreader, less even between it and an engine whose fuel 
was undreamed of then, or a cream separator whose 
centrifugal object it is to replace the pan and ladle. The 
significant point is that it and they were both mechanisms 
which not only replaced labor, but functioned more ef 
ficiently. The reaper turned men s minds to the solution 
of farm labor problems. It started a train of thought that 
later was to bring into being so many mechanical answers 
to the farmer s needs. 


Of greater importance to agriculture than these new 
machines was the element of stabilization brought to the 
industry by the formation of the International Harvester 
Company. Chaos had been reigning. The harvester war 
had started between McCormick and Hussey and then 
had raged between McCormick and Manny. For a time 
the protagonists had been McCormick and Champion. 
Most recently it had been a struggle, apparently to 
the death, between McCormick and Deering. Always the 
ancient leader had been forging on ahead, always there 
had been some one to challenge its aggressiveness. The 
net result of constant turmoil was disaster for the 
manufacturer, for the local agent, for the farmer. The last 
had frequently enjoyed the benefit of low prices if the 
turn of battle should happen to take the form of price- 
cutting competition; but that was all. The farmer could 
not buy a machine from a manufacturer with any assur 
ance that the vendor would be in existence next year. 
The maker could not have the benefit of a great volume of 
foreign sales to increase his production and thereby re 
duce his costs and his selling price. Above all, the farmer 
could not under the old system get the benefit of the large 
sums the Harvester Company immediately began to 
spend each year in organized experimental research. 

American business men now believe that uncertainty is 
the worst of all commercial evils. If business is to be 
good, they can provide for it; if bad, they can prepare for 
it; and if it is to be normal, they can surround the conduct 
of their affairs with some assurance for the future. In the 
case of the International Harvester Company, this assur 
ance of stabilized conditions rather than chaos took the 
form of a more intensified understanding of the purveying 
of necessities of life. Binders and mowers and gasoline 
engines and manure spreaders are not luxury articles* 


They are basic necessities. People do not buy necessities 
because they want to, but because they have to. For a 
luxury they will pay a long price and make no complaint; 
but they will deliberate over the terms of a necessary 
transaction and demand those things they feel they have 
a right to expect. 

The most vital desideratum in the eyes of purchasers is 
service. What investigation of the field problems has the 
manufacturer made to insure a potential customer that 
the article in question will meet his needs? What service 
can the seller render to facilitate selection? What assur 
ance can the maker or the wholesaler or the retailer give 
of instruction in the use of the new device or of adjust 
ment in its after life? These are questions which any 
vendor of a necessity must expect from any purchaser. It 
cannot be written into the purchase contract that the 
resulting functions will be performed. But customer 
goodwill is the most productive of all investments. 
People in general and farmers in particular were soon to 
learn that they could expect more worth from the plans 
and efforts of the new company than they had ever been 
able to receive from its weaker component parts. Their 
problems were its problems. Its success was theirs. 


IT is probable that the deeper evils resulting from the 
great harvester war were not appreciated at the time of 
the formation of the International Harvester Company. 
Of these, by no means the least was the decline of the 
trade in the old-line harvesting machines which, as has 
been shown, had been forced by undue competition to a 
volume far larger than the normal farm demand could 
sustain. As soon as the managers of the consolidation 
realized this, they sought to secure relief by attacking 
the problems of so-called vertical integration through 
company production of raw materials and by expansion 
through the development of new lines of product. 

It has been related how the Deering Company bought 
land on the Calumet River in South Chicago and planned 
to erect blast furnaces. It fell to the International Har 
vester Company to develop this property. It had been 
proposed to produce some sixty-five thousand tons of 
steel a year; but now the demands for Company-made 
steel were greater and additional equipment was provided 
nearly to double the estimated production. The making 
of steel is a grimy business, full of the din of continuing 
utility and the nerve-tension of never-ending demand. 
It is also romantic with accomplishment. To get an 
adequate volume for production, much more steel had 
to be made than the Company itself required; and the 
disposal of this surplus has become a useful contribution 
to Harvester s widening field of sales. 

The development of the Deering ore leases on the 
Mesaba Range and of the coal lands in Kentucky fol- 


lowed after the organization of the new company. The 
exploitation of the ore mines was a picturesque tale of in 
dustrial conquest. The coal fields were sixty miles away 
from a railway. But the solution of apparently difficult 
problems was not too much for the heirs of men who had 
moved Deering Works overnight or who had rebuilt 
McCormick Works so splendidly after the Chicago Fire. 
The railroad was persuaded to bring in its tracks, bee 
hive coke ovens were constructed, coal veins were opened, 
and a new town in the Kentucky hills was built. This 
little city, planned in terms of the new science of welfare, 
was one of Harvester s first efforts at providing twentieth- 
century surroundings for workmen. 

At Hamilton, Ontario, a new plant was begun in 1903 
on land which the provident Deerings had purchased. 
The Canadian duty on agricultural implements had 
never been heavy; but they had wished to gain such 
small advantage as they could. In those days the bene 
fits of quantity production were not understood ; so it is 
not surprising that they expected, by having a Cana 
dian factory, to save the entire duty. The International 
Harvester Company determined to manufacture there 
its Canadian requirements of binders, mowers, and such 
other machines as were built especially for the Canadian 

The effort to develop a flax twine industry in the 
Minnie Harvester plant at St. Paul was unsuccessful. 
Although the technical processes were perfected, the 
science and skill of the United States Government, the 
State agricultural authorities, and the International 
Harvester Company could not make a twine which, when 
bound neatly around a sheaf of grain, would repel the 
appetite of grasshoppers. The soft flax became their 
favorite diet; so the Company perforce wrote off more 


than a million dollar loss and had to admit that the 
experiment was a failure. Flax, for which so much had 
been expected, could not be used as a commercially satis 
factory binder-twine material. Twine production was, 
therefore, confined to hard fiber bought in Yucatan and 
the Philippines, which was spun in the twine mills at 
McCormick, Deering, Auburn, and St. Paul. 

However disastrous may have been the Harvester 
Company s effort to provide binder twine made of 
American-grown flax, its other efforts to help the farmer 
by producing new lines of usable tools were more suc 
cessful. The greater part of the money spent on the 
manufacturing establishment went toward the equipping 
of the new-line factories. The modernization of the old 
harvesting-machine plants simply had to wait. Cream 
separator and stationary engine manufacture was in 
stalled at Milwaukee in place of the former line of har 
vesting machinery which had been removed to McCor 
mick Works. A great new gray iron foundry was built, 
the largest in the Company and one of the largest in the 
world. But the new era of the factory did not really start 
until 1908, when tractor production began, although 
Milwaukee was making the power plants for the Com 
pany s Upper Sandusky-made tractors as early as 1906. 
The Auburn, Akron, Springfield, West Pullman, and 
Rock Falls shops were enlarged. 

The distribution of product between these many plants 
was entirely scientific and logical. The manufacture of 
any given machine was centralized in one factory, except 
as concerned Auburn and Rock Falls Works, where a 
freight differential on business designed for the East and 
South or for the West governed the allocation of product. 
The resulting manufacturing economies were, however, 
nowhere near important enough to affect sales prices. 


Then, too, wages and the cost of purchased materials 
kept on increasing and counteracted the first efforts at 
efficiency; and the demand for the old-line harvesting 
machines failed to return to the former level. Neverthe 
less, the Company s manufacturing program, was aided 
by the new business secured abroad and in the new-line 
products. They were providing the economic justifica 
tion for the consolidation and the resulting exploration 
into new fields of endeavor. Thus, by 1912 the Company 
was spending twice as much for production labor as in 
1902. No one of the factories was less active than ten 
years before, no line of manufacture had been abandoned, 
and many new articles had been introduced for the first 

McCormick and Deering Works went on very much as 
before. They each had famous records as producing 
centers for harvesting machinery, and it is perhaps the 
fault of this fame, which they themselves had justified, 
that their new entities demanded so little of the large 
sums the Company was spending for new and revised pro 
duction equipment. Their former manufacturing leader 
ship had been outstanding. The seeds of mass produc 
tion had been sown in the first McCormick Works 
before 1850; and the Deering Company had, by 1902, 
taken important early steps toward the integration of 
raw materials and demand. Their great foundries and 
their novel molding machinery were the admiration of 
the iron world. Their records for low-cost production 
were remarkable. They were the wonder of nineteenth- 
century manufacturing. Their novel fragments of mod 
ern mass-production methods, their mower-frame boring 
machines and section-hardening furnaces were still 
abreast of the times. The salesmen of those days were 
even able to make and prove the surprising assertion that 


the price of a grain binder with its hundreds of moving 
parts was less per pound than that of an ordinary 
domestic cook stove. 

McCormick and Deering Works had gone far in a 
world that had not quite discovered mass production. 
And yet the Harvester Company, in spite of all its grow 
ing resources, was unable to expand its trade facilities all 
over the world, provide enough capital to equip so many 
new production enterprises, and at the same time keep 
abreast in all particulars with the pace of twentieth- 
century progress. The old factories lost none of their 
former excellence nor their ability to produce agricul 
tural implements at a cost which was and is the 
envy of the manufacturing world. But it must be ad 
mitted that they did not readily accept the new theories 
of mass-production methods which between 1910 and 
1915 were being tried out in the newest automobile 
factories. Thus, even Tractor Works, built after 1910 
and devoted though it was to the construction of the 
Company s most modern machine, the tractor, bore only 
a slight resemblance to what would now be considered 
a mass-production shop. Harvester s ability to produce 
had not weakened, but it was not developing as fast as 
were the manufacturing systems of other industries. 
Where the motor-car world was beginning to progress 
with new ideas and new methods, International s 
harvesting-machine and new-line factories had for the 
present to forgo modernization. Circumstances had com 
pelled the Harvester Company to devote its capital and 
energies to selling the new lines, to raw material proper 
ties, and to the fostering of the export business. 

At the time the Harvester Company was being formed, 
the rising protective tariffs of foreign countries threat 
ened exclusion from foreign markets already developed 


at great expense and by years of effort. It was therefore 
determined to embark upon a broad course of foreign 
manufacture. The first of the European plants estab 
lished was the Swedish Works at Norrkoping in 1905. 
The initial production consisted largely of mowers, with 
other implements and twine following as a matter of 
course, as the high Swedish duties made it desirable to 
produce that country s requirements within its borders. 
In 1909, a site for a German factory was chosen at Neuss, 
due consideration being given to the superfine manu 
facturing facilities of the Rhineland and to the remark 
able German distributing system of canals and railways. 
Old factories were purchased at Croix, near Lille, in 
northeastern France, and at Lubertzy, near Moscow, in 
the heart of Russia. The last was designed to produce 
the lobogreika, a Russian form of reaper suited to the 
unsophisticated state of agriculture in that mysterious 
country. The French and German factories were pre 
pared to produce a general line of harvesting and tillage 
tools and binder twine. 

The first decade of Harvester Company experience was 
devoted to an active and progressive interest in the devel 
opment of human relations. In the earlier years of the 
twentieth century, a very few industrial organizations 
sought to discover those elements in industrial relations 
which made for better work and more contented workers. 
The United States Steel Corporation, for example, easily 
assumed an outstanding leadership in the cause of safety. 
In later years the International Harvester Company was 
to command the field of forward-looking companies that 
concern themselves with the investigation and solution of 
personnel problems. In its youth it was equally a leader 
in the field of welfare. 

Let me emphasize that the difference between in- 


dustrial welfare policies of, say, 1910, and the under 
standing of industrial relations policies that exists to-day, 
is profound. It may possibly be compared to the differ 
ence between a feudalistic state the government of 
which, however enlightened, contains nothing of the 
consent of the governed and a democracy. It is not 
suggested that an industrial democracy needs to, or does, 
resemble a political democracy; but it is certainly true, 
that if people have a voice in the making of the regu 
lations which affect them, they are more able to under 
stand and accept law. The world attained democracy 
only after passing through a stage of feudalism. Simi 
larly, the world of business attained the modern system 
of industrial relations, which is so largely based upon 
democratic principles of conduct, after an experimental 
period of welfare. 

I say this because I am proud of the fact that the Inter 
national Harvester Company was one of the first large 
industrial companies to lead the way to welfare and thus 
take a radical step in the direction of industrial relations. 
It seems to me that the lot of the great body of the work 
men in the older harvester factories cannot formerly have 
been the happiest. I once heard my grandmother and 
my mother talk longingly of the hoped-for flower beds 
and grass which now adorn the front yard at McCormick 
Works; and I have seen some of the pre-International 
sanitary installations which later knowledge has replaced 
with more adequate facilities. If the McCormick and 
Deering workmen were once provided with -washrooms 
which would seem lamentably insufficient to modern 
eyes, they enjoyed far better working conditions than the 
men in the out-of-Chicago factories which came into the 
International Harvester Company, or those in other fac 
tories in the city. To arrive, it is necessary to start 


It must be remembered that before 1900 there was a 
great deal of strife between the supposedly hostile camps 
of capital and labor. Chicago had several times seen 
men shot down because of open revolt. A huge force 
of Pinkerton detectives was organized to protect factory 
property from riots growing out of strikes. After the 
Haymarket riots the political efforts of the Working- 
men s Party were crushed for a while, but in 1894 they 
revived, and President Cleveland had to call out troops 
to quell a bloody railway strike and prevent interfer 
ence with the United States mails. Before 1902, wages 
throughout the Nation were low, although the effect of 
the early customs tariffs was being felt and they were 
rising. Both capital and labor had to learn first how to 
discover and then how to enjoy prosperity. 

In 1912, when the Company was already a recognized 
leader in welfare work, the following advanced statement 
of policy was issued : 

There was a period in the industrial development of this 
country when employers gave little or no attention to the 
physical or moral welfare of their employees. About the only 
thought that an employer had for his men was on the day the 
pay envelope had to be filled; and the employee s interest in his 
employer was aroused from its sub-normal condition to one of 
active concern when the paymaster hove in sight. Rapid 
strides away from this condition have been made in the past 
few years Many employers have come to realize that they 
owe more than the wages, and that their employees are entitled 
to clean, light, sanitary, and safe places in which to work, to 
compensation when disabled, and to provision for old age. A 
careful business man sees that his property is maintained in 
excellent condition Welfare work, so-called, is simply ap 
plying the same business principles to his employees that he 
applies to the rest of his business. Good welfare work, like good 
business, pays. 

While this ideal is not entirely modern, in that it ex- 


presses what we would to-day consider a step in the right 
direction rather than the attainment of a sought-for ideal, 
it was far ahead of its time in 1912. The industrial world 
has, for example, heard much of the benefit of group and 
other insurance. In 1908, the International Harvester 
Company established an Employees 7 Benefit Association. 
This is a mutual society maintained by the Company s 
contribution of administration expenses, the employees 
contributions going entirely to benefits. The Association 
relieves the minds of its members from financial worries 
when they cannot work because of sickness or of off-duty 
accident, and its provision for the widows and children 
of deceased Harvester men has been helpful. Inciden 
tally the periodical factory elections for Association 
trustees provided, eleven years later, an excellent school 
of preparation for the exercise of the employee repre 
sentation franchise. 

Financial relief for accidents in the course of duty was 
provided for by a compensation plan adopted in 1910. 
The International Harvester Company was beginning 
to adopt a policy of voluntary liberalism and its plan 
assumed as a charge against itself the cost of all indus 
trial accidents from whatever cause. A number of State 
compensation laws, subsequently passed, followed its 
terms. As fast as such legislation became effective, the 
Company substituted the State systems for its own pre 
vious scheme of voluntary compensation. 

Matters affecting an employee s working conditions 
were vigorously studied. Guards were provided for 
moving machinery, books of rules for the avoidance of 
accidents were printed, and foremen gave instruction in 
safety. Until 1919 there were no works councils, so it was 
impossible before then to tap the greatest of all reservoirs 
of safety education, namely, the elected representatives 


of the men themselves. Nevertheless, the Harvester 
record for safety was impressive, and the Company was 
already well on its way to its present acknowledged 

Some reference has been made to pre-i9O2 working 
conditions and their too-frequent insufficiency. Viewed 
with our educated perspective, they may not have been 
good ; but that was so simply because manufacturers had 
not yet learned what influence environment could have 
on efficiency. Sanitation became the order of the day 
for Harvester before any other company began to study 
the subject. Old equipment was replaced, the drinking- 
fountain appeared, ventilating systems were installed, 
and the scientific application of electric lighting was 
studied. Even in its first years, the Company began to 
codify standards governing such matters. Exhaust sys 
tems were provided for grinding rooms and over emery 
wheels, first aid was practiced, factory hospitals were 
organized, and a matron was engaged wherever any num 
ber of women were working. 

I do not pretend that what was accomplished before 
1912 in the development of welfare, even the splendid 
forward step of prohibiting night work for women, was 
more than a good beginning. The manufacturing execu 
tives of the Company had been trained in a different, 
ruder school. Doubtless many of them did not appreci 
ate, as did the higher management, the need for improve 
ment in the application of welfare work; and their educa 
tion may have seemed a slow matter. But a new genera 
tion of men was taking charge of the factories. The 
change in executive personnel due to promotion or resig 
nation was rapid, and a younger generation was growing 
up to take the place of the stern veterans of the harvester 
war, who, simply because they themselves had survived, 


had every right to believe that the fittest men alone 
should be permitted to live on. The new men were ad 
vancing by great strides and were putting their company 
far in the lead among industrial concerns. They dis 
cussed such matters under the head of health, whereas 
we of to-day now consider them, and health as well, as 
the essential foundation of efficiency. But they accom 
plished much with practically nothing to begin with, and, 
under the leadership of Cyrus H. McCormick, they laid 
the sure foundation for the more developed science of the 
present years. When a future historian looks back on our 
generation s work, he will consider it good if we have 
made as much of an advance beyond previous standards 
as they did. 

The most important of the early forward-looking poli 
cies adopted by the International Harvester Company 
was the establishment, in 1908, of a pension system. The 
plan was not the first in the industrial world ; but its pro 
visions were remarkable for their liberality. It was not 
announced to a group of young workingmen who would 
have to wait for a long period to enjoy its benefits, but 
was made immediately applicable to all employees. A 
fund was set aside from operating capital to insure an 
income for the constantly increasing amount of pension 
payments. The entire cost of pensions was and is 
borne by the Company, no contribution being made by 
the employee. 

Many business organizations, stable enough to warrant 
an expectancy of continued existence, have since adopted 
pension schemes, but none has exceeded the provision 
for the future offered by this plan and its subsequent 
enlargements. Modern students say rightly that con 
tinuity of employment bulks largest in a workman s eyes 
when he considers working conditions. The second most 


important consideration is provision for his declining, 
unproductive years. Eager young men whose lives lie in 
the future may not concern themselves deeply over their 
last years; but stable workmen, whose best period may 
have been given to one task, cannot but worry as to 
what may happen to them when their strength declines. 
Many Harvester men had been on the pay roll for forty 
years or more. They had seen agricultural implements 
develop from crude origins into efficient machines. Too 
frequently they had seen their companies drifting toward 
a financial incompetency that meant the ending of all 
hope for themselves. Now they had been taken over into 
a strong family, able to look forward to the future. 
Furthermore, this new group looked at their affairs as 
human problems. The day had gone when an employee 
was merely a machine with legs and arms. He had 
aspirations which should and could be recognized. The 
Harvester Company flatly propounded the doctrine that 
provision for these wants was a charge, not upon the 
isolated individual, but upon the entire business. 

Such a radical departure from what would once have 
been considered the accepted conservatism of capitalism 
was entirely consistent with the enlightened McCormicfc 
tradition. If one examines carefully the life of the in 
ventor of the reaper, one may easily discover more of a 
tolerance toward the problems of humanity than one 
might expect from a dominant, assertive, ruthless busi 
ness man. In the case of his son, leader now of wider 
destinies, the father s dominant will was muted to self- 
control; and devotion to the cause of the reaper had 
become a willingness an eagerness to recognize the 
rights of others. 

It has been said that the world has ever been able to 
discover the right leader when an emergency appears. 


Cyrus Hall McCormick was such a man for the develop 
ment of the reaper, a pioneer in a time when pioneering 
was needed, who could thrust a way through the barriers 
obstructing the road to the future. Cyrus H. McCormick, 
his son, was temperamentally able to lead the Interna 
tional Harvester Company through its first, difficult 
years and turn suspicion into faith. It would have been 
too much to expect all Deering men, all McCormick 
men, and all the men of the other organizations, factory 
men and salesmen alike, to accept one another whole 
heartedly simply because their former families had been 
scrambled. But if it was difficult for some of these old 
warriors to yield to the fact of consolidation, it was, con 
versely, impossible for the president of the new family 
to accept anything less than ultimate harmony and co 
ordination as the standard of his organization. 

In all his efforts he was ably seconded by his brother 
Harold and by Alexander Legge, who became general 
manager when C. S. Funk, of Champion, resigned in 1913 
to become president of the Rumely Company. He had 
won his way upward through every rank, and, since he 
was one of those men to whom problems and difficulties 
are the meat and drink of existence, the things he learned 
in each stage of his progress became capital in the bank 
of his advancement. Possessed of a fiery, forceful tem 
perament, he could inspire men by his vigorous vision, 
compel them to success by the power of his own example, 
work himself with a never-ending consecration, and make 
other men want to work. He and his president gave the 
new company exactly the touch needed to prove to the 
world that the thrill of perseverance and vision and 
the ultimate success of well-laid plans were not the dead 
attributes of the age of romance. They proved that high 
ideals could be a measure of practical existence. 


In 1912, Cyrus H. McCormick wrote of the Com 
pany s first ten years: 

The International Harvester Company has attempted to 
show that a large corporation can be directed and inspired by 
the same high ideals which so often characterize the manage 
ment of a private business. It has not tried to shield its actions 
behind any impersonal forms, but has accepted the full respon 
sibility for its acts, and has asked to be judged by what it does. 
Its officers and leading employees have spent their lives in 
building up a sound and creditable business organization, and 
their purpose and effort have been to bring to this Company 
the same personal zeal for honorable success which gave to 
the predecessor companies the high esteem of the commercial 

However popular the old companies had been with the 
farming public, there can be no question that by 1912 
the new consolidation was even higher in favor with the 
agricultural world. Farmers had come to look to it for 
service in their interests; and they had come to realize 
that Harvester men were actuated by something more 
than a mere desire to make and sell implements. Har 
vester men had received from Harvester history a deep 
inspiration which knit them in the common cause of 
service. They became imbued with a spirit, a force that 
permitted and compelled them to carry on. 

It is difficult to define an abstract quality; and in the 
case of Harvester Spirit, it would be simpler to relate the 
annals of Harvester men and thus set forth a living 
picture of its workings. In truth, it has so taken posses 
sion of their consciousness that their every occupation 
is an expression of its qualities. Individually, it is a very 
personal force leading men on to accomplishment. Col 
lectively, it is a bond that knits them into a strong union 
for a common purpose. Its result has been that sincere 
and constructive urge to serve which made it impossible 


for Harvester men, great or small, to treat employees or 
customers unfairly. It has woven the many thousands of 
them into one family, so to speak a personal associa 
tion dedicated to an ideal. This ideal has been the 
effective personalization of the cause of service to the 

It is said that in Rockbridge County, Virginia, even 
before 1831, Robert McCormick and his family, obvi 
ously among the chief citizens in that rural community, 
lived somewhat apart from their neighbors. The other 
fanners and villagers may have felt that Robert and his 
wife and his eldest son wre inspired by a different, wider 
intellectual vigor. When the young inventor grew beyond 
his father s stature, he made the whole body of farmers 
members of his mental family ; and he considered his and 
their common purpose more worth while than the activi 
ties of other men. No matter how, in later life, he may 
have come to be respected as an industrialist, as a leading 
citizen, as a man of wealth, or as a churchman, he him 
self felt that his distinction rested on his self-dedication 
to the cause of agriculture. This was what he had sought 
in the highways and byways of life he wanted the 
esteem of the farmers to be his chief memorial. 

The tradition he established lived after him and flour 
ished. How many times I have heard Alex Legge, first 
among Harvester men of that day and this, tell of how 
my grandmother summoned a visiting general agent to 
her house to tell her of the state of business on the far 
frontiers, and how that man would later return to the 
office fired with her zeal. How often I have seen Har 
vester men pay tribute to my father s principles by 
adopting them as their own. He had piloted his company 
through a soul-testing period when every ounce of his 
wisdom and his strength of purpose were needed, and out 


of which the organization came with the mature vigor of 
tried and true devotion. As president of the Interna 
tional Harvester Company, his courage, fairness, and 
determination were a shining example to men who might 
otherwise have sought to continue within the consolida 
tion the warfare of the past. He and his brother Harold 
could set such an example because they, too, had dedi 
cated their lives to the advancement of agriculture. They 
were living in terms of a practical ideal which could not 
be achieved except by the upright activities of the thou 
sands whom they were teaching, as their father had 
taught them, to serve the farmer. 

With the exception of a few, the old leaders who 
had formed the International Harvester Company had 
dropped out of active operations by the time the first ten 
years were run. Executive positions were being filled by 
the younger McCormick managers, by the junior Deering 
men to whom the struggles of the past had not been so 
acute, by a scattering of promoted Champion and Key 
stone executives, and by a constantly increasing number 
of individuals who had had no previous connection with 
Harvester affairs. One and all, these men were won by 
the living force of the old tradition. Its vigor enveloped 
them and in their hands became Harvester Spirit. They 
solidified the Harvester family, they kept Harvester 
Spirit intact through the years of trial, they handed it 
on to the younger generation. 

They could not have done so if this spirit had not been 
to a certain extent self-propagating. An ideal of service 
is ever strong. This one was sure enough to weld the men 
of many organizations into one group, to pass from them 
into new groups of younger Harvester men and cause 
them also to be coherent in an even finer way. Harvester 
Spirit has grown as much out of the dedicated minds of 


the thousands of Harvester men all over the world as 
from the ideals of their chiefs. They and the things they 
do are its best expression. When a branch manager will 
arise at midnight from his yearned-for bed to open the 
warehouse and get a farmer a harvester knotter spring 
which costs five cents and upon which that farmer s 
entire harvest depends, he is actuated by something more 
than a desire to hold his job. A factory laborer who lends 
his shoulder to another s task is spending himself for 
agriculture. The local dealers and the legion of farmers 
who have learned to trust a corporation for service 
they are echoing the subtle influence of Harvester Spirit. 
In far-away New Zealand I have seen the same fighting 
determination energizing a group of men no one of whom 
has ever visited the parent source of inspiration in Chicago. 
There is nothing secret, nothing occult, in Harvester 
Spirit. Justice, fairness, truth, the right at all times at 
whatever cost these were the ideals by which a grow 
ing commercial organism was actuated. The men of the 
new Harvester generation felt these things because they 
lived by them. At the top of the organization, proudly 
planning for its further expansion, were leaders like 
Couchman, H. F. Perkins, Utley, and Ranney of the 
McCormick staff; McKinstry and Haney of Deering; 
Edgar of Champion; and Johnston of Keystone. Many 
new men like Reay, the comptroller, and a hundred others 
brought in to strengthen the ranks of enlarging depart 
ments, became imbued with the modern force of ancient 
ideals. I have heard Alex Legge attribute Harvester 
Spirit to my father s influence; but I think his praise is 
too broad. The credit for making it effective, and for the 
presence in a commercial organization of practical ideals 
which are usually supposed to be the crown of private 
life alone, belongs to all Harvester men. 


Ax THE formation of the International Harvester Com 
pany, the constituent organizations made nothing more 
than harvesting machinery. All five of them made grain 
binders, the leading implement of the agricultural world, 
reapers, corn binders, mowers, and hay rakes. McCor- 
mick, Deering, and Piano also manufactured the push 
type of harvester, the large machine used in the West, 
and its companion, the header, a favorite implement in 
the dry-farming districts which deposited the loose heads 
in an accompanying wagon to be hauled away to await 
the threshing process. The two larger companies also 
manufactured the corn husker and shredder; Champion 
made a very few hay tedders; and Osborne, at the time 
it became a part of the new company, was the leading 
producer of this tool. 

These machines, with knife grinders, constitute what 
are called the l old lines/ Immediately after the amalga 
mation, Harvester, as has been said, turned its atten 
tion to an intensive development of new lines/ These 
included various machines which were acquired because 
they already enjoyed an established reputation, such as 
the Osborne series of tillage implements, the Keystone hay 
tool and corn sheller line, the Weber wagon and the Kemp 
manure spreader. They also comprised the develop 
ments pioneered by Harvester s own experimental effort, 
such as corn pickers, cream separators, stationary en 
gines, tractors, and the embryo motor truck. For a time, 
also, even pleasure motor cars were assembled, but this 
precarious venture was of short duration. By 1912, hay 


presses, seeding machinery, corn planters, and ensilage 
cutters had also been put on the market. The first 
harvester-thresher appeared in 1914, and the stationary 
thresher in 1918. 

Trade in the new lines has through the years assumed 
a constantly increasing importance to the Company s 
economic position. In 1903, it amounted to but a twen 
tieth part of the entire business. In 1916, the new-line 
volume for the first time exceeded the old; and as the 
war-born demand for tractors came to be felt, it jumped 
far in the lead. It may not be out of place to say that at 
present the old lines constitute less than ten per cent of 
the sales volume. The supremacy of the old harvesting 
lines has passed. 

The full line which the International Harvester 
Company was developing could not be completed until 
after 1918 when plows were added to its number of 
machines; but even before then the catalogue included 
an enormous variety of implements. By that year the 
line of seven or eight original harvesting tools had so 
broadened as to include almost every type of horse- 
drawn machine a fanner need for crop production ex 
cept plows. After the sod or stubble had been broken, 
the cycle of the Company s interest in the farmer s work 
aday activities began. There were harrows of every type 
to smooth the turned furrows, grain drills for seeding, and 
planters for corn or cotton. There were cultivators and 
a variety of other tools for tending the growing crops, and 
a multitude of harvesting implements for reaping grain or 
corn in every way desired by any special locality. There 
were threshing machines and the early models of the 
harvester-thresher, that most efficient of all modern farm 
implements which cuts grain and threshes it in a single 
operation. There were mowers, many kinds of rakes, 


tedders, and loaders in sufficient variety to suit the many 
climatic and other conditions under which hay is grown; 
corn pickers, shellers, huskers, and ensilage cutters; 
wagons and motor trucks for hauling; cream separators 
for the dairyman and stationary engines for the small farm 
or the municipal power plant; and there were tractors. 

Most of these many machines were designed originally, 
or were sooner or later redesigned from their former types, 
by the Company itself. Research and experimental work 
were organized immediately after the amalgamation. 
Under the old companies, the owner of the competing 
business himself had charge of this work. Once his busi 
ness began to grow, the inventor of the reaper had to 
give over the duty of designing to others, but he never 
lost interest in progress and development. The annals 
of McCormick, of Deering, and of the other warriors of 
the old days are full of stories of the search for new de 
vices, of days and nights spent in the fields testing an idea 
against the sternest demands of actual use, and of the 
glamor of final success retrieved from the very portal 
of failure. After 1902, the heads of the business had to 
concern themselves with problems of administration and 
weighty matters of policy; so from the mechanical staffs 
of the former companies they gathered a group of in 
ventors and other men whose genius was born out of 
experience in the study and solution of the farmer s 
mechanical problems. 

Modern experimental work is not as spectacular as it 
was in 1831, because it so frequently must concern itself 
with the more detailed problems brought into being by 
specialization and because, too often, it is anonymous. 
In the old days, when the world of machinery was new, 
great ideas seemed to spring full-blown from the brain 
of a genius. We, who perhaps fear that we must travel 


over trodden paths, fail to realize how insufficient, judged 
by our sophisticated standards, was the work of men like 
Fulton or McCormick or Morse. Surely, though, there 
is much credit for the man of to-day who attacks a prob 
lem because he is told to do so, who works at his draw 
ing board because it is his duty and not simply because of 
a divine urge within him to create, who tries and who 

Practically never does his first plan work. He must 
throw away what he has done, keep the lesson of his first 
failure, try again. Always he has to keep in his mind the 
commercial requirements of his task. There is a cream 
separator to design, for example. Such a device is nothing 
new; it has long since been stripped of its mystery and 
reduced to formulas of rotation, gravity, and the strength 
of materials; and it is admitted that there is something 
wrong with every previous effort of other men whose 
experience may have seemed to canonize their work. 
Then, too, whatever he does must stand the cold analysis 
of sales judgment and accountancy, which will say that 
such and such are the requirements of a dairy farmer, 
and that if the price of the machine exceeds a certain 
figure, the prospective customer will refuse to buy. 
Finally, there are so many men to please. But ever there 
is a chance to shorten the hours of farm labor, increase 
production, or reduce the cost of farm products. 

New design is not the only problem. I have heard it 
said that science marches ahead so quickly into unex 
plored fields of intellectual endeavor, or finds so many 
flaws in deductions gained from previous knowledge, that 
the scientist of 1900 would be but a beginner if he had 
not kept on growing between that time and this. Simi 
larly, even the tried and true grain binders of 1902 have 
since been worked over and changed to keep them up to 


date and efficient in relation to the constantly enlarging 
requirements of agriculture. An archaic type of machine 
was deemed good in its day because men knew no better 
when it was first offered to them; but out of it has grown 
experience. Experience involves standards for former 
methods as much as the critical ability to value new pro 
cesses. The International Harvester Company bought 
well-established and honorable trade names for tillage 
tools, hay tools, wagons, and spreaders. Nevertheless, it 
soon found the necessity of changing and improving those 
machines if they were to be kept worthy of the new 
cream separators, engines, tractors, and motor trucks 
which were constantly appearing. 

When the standards governing implement specifica 
tions are in process of formation, new types of machinery 
are carried south to the earliest harvest district and 
started north in the train of the ripening grain. This is 
arduous, but it gives several years experience in one 
slimmer; and it is infinitely preferable to the primitive 
method of McCormick in Virginia, where, if he failed to 
correct a given difficulty, he could have no further chance 
of doing so until next year. Gradually, the relation of 
moving parts and the equations governing such things 
as the strength of materials were reduced to a science. 
This science lies only in men s minds, for no volume can 
hold the text of experience, and agricultural implement 
engineering has to deal with too many variables for ready 
classification. One designs a binder or a mower in the 
field or by night over the forge of a country blacksmith 
shop, not from the published data of mathematical for 
mulas. The designing of farm machinery demands an 
intimate knowledge of farm psychology as well as farm 

When the tractor was growing up, the empirical 


method of implement engineering could to a certain ex 
tent be supplemented by the documented evidence which 
grew out of automobile designing. A tractor is made of 
materials so expensive that their every qualification 
must be known. The manufacturing limits can and 
must be expressed to a nicety. The results to be expected 
from horse-power and gear ratios can be predicted in 
advance and subsequently checked with absolute assur 
ance. But a tractor, which is purposeless if it is not able 
to work at all times under maximum stresses and strains, 
is not an easy problem. An automobile does not have 
to run at top speed for every minute of its productive 
life, an airplane engine is always in the hands of the most 
skilled mechanics to check or repair any incipient ill. 
The tractor has to work it has to be designed for never- 
ending toil, for the task of furnishing available, immedi 
ate, and dependable farm power. 

The work of reconditioning the old lines and providing 
a complete assortment of new-line equipment would have 
been difficult enough for any group of engineers. Under 
the Harvester Company plan of distribution, with at 
least one McCormick and one Deering dealer in every 
town, the engineers were asked to provide two designs 
of each machine. As the so-called full line developed, it 
became necessary to supply each of these sales agents 
with a complete assortment of implements to accom 
pany the line-leading binder in order to round out the 
field of his trade possibilities. Each of these secondary 
tools had to be different from, and yet had to perform as 
satisfactorily as, its brother. Thus gradually through 
the years there came into being an enormous variety of 
machinery which taxed the engineers to plan and the 
factories to manufacture. There were, for example, two 
complete sets of tillage implements, at least two manure 


spreaders, two wagons, two cream separators, two types 
of stationary engines, and for a time at least there were 
two tractor lines. 

I am not sure that this was entirely a sound plan. In 
the early years of the Company, it was apparently the 
intention to provide a multiple series of machines to 
accompany the six harvester lines; and an attempt was 
even made to provide a special binder for the Keystone 
tillage line. Thus, a few header-harvesters were made 
after 1906 for Champion, and side-delivery rakes and 
tedders were added to the McCormick and Deering lines. 
The endeavor was futile and fell of its own weight. One 
sales organization could not stretch its attention to so 
many almost identical machines of the same class. Then, 
too, after 1912, the McCormick and Deering lines be 
came, by popular selection, the leading Harvester Com 
pany products. When I was on the sales force in 1915 and 
1916, we found some trouble in disposing of the lesser 
lines although in certain localities a dealer would 
accept no other. 

It required some planning to deal satisfactorily with 
the double sales arrangements imposed upon us by the 
double McCormick and Deering lines. We had to be 
prepared to propound the advantages of each and I 
think that I, although of the house of McCormick, was 
impartial between the two. Yet all our efforts did not 
greatly change their relative standing. McCormick and 
Deering binder sales in the United States were very 
nearly equal in 1903 and very nearly equal for the first 
twenty International years; and Deering mower sales 
never approximated more than three-quarters of McCor 
mick. In the foreign field the early McCormick ascend 
ency had established a name for itself that kept it always 
slightly in the lead. 


But the great day of the harvesting machine as a leader 
of the Company s business was over. New times had 
brought new and better methods to the agricultural 
equipment world. The tractor had been born and it was 
rapidly replacing the horse as a measure of farm power. 
The story of the early progress of power farming is a long 
one and cannot be told here in its entirety. Suffice it to 
say that the invention of the tractor was almost as im 
portant to the farmer as the invention of the reaper. 

As a matter of fact, both the reaper and the tractor are 
similar in their object. The social importance of the 
reaper was that it substituted horse-power for the tired 
muscles of straining peasants; the social importance of 
the tractor is that it substitutes mechanical power for 
those tasks which sap the strength of men and animals. 
Both brought the power of machinery to the aid of man. 
Both presented a way of accomplishing a desired result 
with less body-racking, soul-testing effort. Progressively 
they freed men s minds from the apparent delusion of 
necessity: and then presented an opportunity for work 
with brains as a better substitute for work with brawn. 
Power farming really began to appear in 1831 with the 
invention of the reaper. Its story is perhaps not yet 
finished, even with the twentieth century and the inven 
tion of the tractor. 

The difference between the reaper and the tractor as 
examples of applied power is but a matter of degree. It is 
certainly true that material progress must be valued in 
terms of preceding and surrounding circumstances. The 
invention of the reaper would have been unimportant if 
it had followed the introduction of the harvester-thresher. 
The reaper is remarkable because it was the first machine 
to summon the then almost unknown capacity of me 
chanics to the relief of manual agriculture. The tractor, 


master to-day of a farmer s power problems, is a direct 
descendant in the original strain of power application and 
labor elimination. It has grown out of the reaper just 
as surely as the automobile has risen from the first 
wheeled chariot. Man s experience and wisdom could 
not in 1831 produce a tractor; but they could not avoid 
producing the ancestor of the tractor, the reaper. 

The story of the tractor properly begins with the dis 
covery of steam. Watt s patent of 1784 was for a steam 
road carriage, not for the railway locomotive which 
Stephenson produced in 1817 as a better substitute for 
the engine of the highways. The first portable steam 
power plant was built in Philadelphia in 1849. A year 
later, Horace Greeley wrote: The time must be at hand 
when every thrifty farmer will have such an engine of 
his own, and chopping straw, turning grindstone, cutting 
wood, churning, threshing, etc., will cease to be a manual 

and become a mechanical operation This engine will 

be running on wheels and driving a scythe before it or 
drawing a plow behind it within five years. We have 
hardly begun to use steam as yet/ In 1867, the United 
States Commissioner of Agriculture pointed out that 
power could be as helpful to farming as to transportation 
in that insufficient power with light plows breaks im 
perfectly a shallow depth, while the mighty power of 
steam, harnessed to strong implements, breaking, pulver 
izing, or intermixing soils, accomplishes all results of a 
superior cultivation in less time and at less expense than 
any other method. 

For many years the application of steam power to 
farm problems went no further than threshing, and the 
adaptation of power to plowing was not attempted until 
near the end of the nineteenth century. Even then the 
engines with which plowing was first attempted were 


power plants devised for threshing, movable only for 
purposes of transportation from field to field. When 
specially designed steam apparatus was produced, it was 
not successful. The field locomotive was too cumbersome 
and too costly for individual farm use. 

The solution of the problem of the tractor lay in 
the Otto internal combustion engine of 1876. When the 
Otto patents ran out in 1890, so many companies in 
different parts of the world leaped into motor activity 
that by 1899 there were over a hundred kinds of four 
cycle engines on the market. To-day they are all name 
less, for, with the exception of Otto, who pioneered the 
original process and its theoretical background, no single 
inventor can be credited with the discovery of the gas 
engine. Otto s name may, if you will, be added to those 
of Whitney and McCormick to make up the trio whose 
practical researches have for all time been of the greatest 
benefit to farmers; but Otto was interested in power 
and in the functioning of his device as a prime mover for 
all purposes, not in agricultural power as such. The trac 
tor of to-day derives its heritage more directly from 
the possibly many unnamed individuals who, for and by 
themselves, mounted stationary gasoline engines on mov 
able frames. 

What is supposed to be the first manufactured gasoline 
tractor dates from 1895; but this outfit stalled itself in a 
newly plowed field and, when it was finally extricated by 
half the community, it balked. During the next several 
years various individuals sought more or less ineffectu 
ally to build farm tractors. These efforts were directed 
to produce belt-power machines rather than tractors for 
plowing and other mobile work. It required the indirect 
impetus of the rapidly developing automobile industry, 
which by 1901 was producing some eighteen thousand 


motor cars a year, to spur enthusiasts for power farming 
into a realization of the scope of the field which lay before 

The most noteworthy among the parents of the inter 
nal combustion tractor were two young engineers, C. W. 
Hart and C. H. Parr, of Charles City, Iowa* In the 
winter of 1901, they built a cumbersome two-cylinder, 
oil-cooled, slow-speed, two-cycle tractor which, sold 
during the following summer to an Iowa farmer, aston 
ished all concerned by its ability to operate. The next 
year the two men constructed fifteen more tractors. That 
these early machines, crude though they may have been, 
were sound and serviceable is indicated by the surprising 
statement that in 1920 half of this first crop of farm 
tractors were still in the hands of farmer owners and still 
in operation. 

Comparatively few tractors were built by any one 
before 1906, when the large-scale tractor industry was 
born. Western Canada was then being rapidly devel 
oped, the ultimate frontier of the agricultural United 
States had not been quite attained, and everywhere 
countless weary miles of plodding were awaiting farmers 
if they could find no substitute for the horse-drawn plow. 
Farmers were demanding general purpose motive power. 
There were no more than five hundred tractors in use 
upon American and Canadian farms when simultane 
ously eleven companies, including International Har 
vester, began the manufacture of tractors. 

The first machines of the Harvester Company were 
equipped with a Milwaukee-made fifteen horse-power 
plant mounted on a friction drive chassis produced by 
the Ohio Manufacturing Company at Upper Sandusky, 
Ohio. The engine had an open crankcase, a single cyl 
inder, make-and-break ignition, and spray tank cooling. 


The whole power plant was shifted on rollers to engage 
the friction drive disk. Twenty-five of these crude 
machines were built and distributed to the territory 
for observation. The reports on their behavior were 
satisfactory, so in the following year two hundred were 
put out. But soon it became apparent that friction 
would not serve as a method of transmission; and when 
tractor manufacture was transferred in 1908 from Akron, 
where it had been housed for a time, to the larger Mil 
waukee Works, the standard type of geared transmission 
was adopted. 

Mechanical plowing was then as essential to the 
development of western Canada as the reaper had been 
to the prairies across the Mississippi. The world s cry 
for bread was insistent, population was lacking, and, 
even though the resources of mechanized farm equipment 
were marshaled, the task of turning acres of prairie sod 
was too great. Saskatchewan and Alberta were measured 
in leagues, not in miles, and their huge farms extended 
beyond the horizon. Canadian interest in gaining a 
mechanical substitute for animal power was therefore 
keen. The first of the many great tractor plowing demon 
strations was held at Winnipeg in the summer of 1908. 
Five manufacturers of gasoline tractors and five ad 
herents of steam competed. Kinnard-Haines won, Har 
vester placed second, and the ultimate doom of steam 
was sounded. The net result of the test was that public 
interest was aroused, the mechanical weakness of exist 
ing designs was indicated, and a demand for equipment 
large enough to suit the conditions of western Canada 
became apparent. 

Canada was then the leading tractor market, consum 
ing over two-thirds of all tractors built and governing 
the type by its requirements. There was a second Winni- 


peg contest in 1909 and a third in 1910, both of which 
marked the trend toward increasing size. Where Har 
vester s first machines had been equipped with a modest 
fifteen horse-power engine, its two victorious 1909 entries 
developed twenty and twenty-five horse-power, and its 
1910 model was of forty-five horse-power. Tractor 
design was improving, as evidenced by a decrease in the 
average weight per horse-power of the contestants from 
537 pounds in 1908 to 504 pounds in 1910; but if we may 
judge by the standards of to-day, the machines were 
huge and lumbering. They ground their way slowly 
across the long field, cutting a wide furrow with as many 
as fifteen plow bottoms. This was the way western 
Canada wanted its sod turned. 

The 1910 demonstration marked the first surrender of 
steam to gasoline and also the first appearance of kero 
sene as a fuel. For a time the threshermen fought against 
internal combustion. There are tales of bitter hand-to- 
hand combats; but their opposition was of no avail. Their 
ranks began to break when Rumely deserted steam and 
produced Kerosene Annie/ whose approach to Winnipeg 
was celebrated by a flaring advertising campaign which 
did more to capture popular attention for the tractor than 
a dozen shows. 

The International Harvester Company climbed ahead 
of Hart-Parr as the leading producer in 1910, and by 191 1 
was responsible for perhaps a third of the United States 
output. In 1912, it made over three thousand tractors, 
followed by Rumely with nearly as many, and by Hart- 
Parr. Public interest seemed to center solely in the big 
gest machines. At the Winnipeg show in 1912, the aver 
age brake horse-power of the contestants exceeded fifty. 
Editorial writers clamored for small tractors; the Ameri 
can trade was becoming important and American farms 


were smaller than Canadian; engineers dreamed of small 
power units but the public seemed to want nothing 
but the largest, heaviest machine possible. Harvester 
would have preferred to refine its original fifteen and 
twenty horse-power models rather than to explore an 
uncertain way into the sphere of magnitude where it 
had no experience. But it was helpless in the face of 
the demand. Thus, when Tractor Works was built in 
Chicago in 1910, the first buildings resembled a loco 
motive shop more than an implement works. The Com 
pany s position in the industry was based on the sale of 
many comparatively inexpensive implements to many 
fanners; but now its leading tractor was a sixty horse 
power monster that weighed eleven tons. Its chief publi 
city stunt was to link three of these huge engines together 
and, pulling fifty-five plows, to turn a furrow sixty-four 
feet wide. 

True to its traditions, the Harvester Company no 
sooner found itself in the tractor business than it began 
to seek to develop exports. In 1908, one of the early 
machines was shipped to France and one to Australia. 
The French machine competed at Amiens with a number 
of European makes and was victorious. Apparently its 
performance astounded the spectators, for the manager 
of the Paris office wrote, I am pleased to say that our 
tractor worked two complete days without stopping for a 
single instant owing to any defect or disarrangement of 
the working parts. Soon International tractors appeared 
also in Russia, Austria, Mexico, and the Argentine. Rus 
sian wheat farms were huge, not unlike those of western 
Canada, and the tractor received a ready welcome. 
Plowing with three yoke of oxen to each bottom was 
tedious and expensive, and the larger landowners were 
eager for relief. Nevertheless, it may well be imagined 

FRANCE, 1909 



that the cost of the monster tractors then in vogue was 
high and that distance and inexperience made efficient 
repair and expert service almost impossible. The wonder 
of it is that any company was so easily able to distribute 
tractors in the distant quarters of the globe. 

The big tractor phase collapsed of its own weight* It 
may be presumed that the power needs of large farmers, 
hitherto accustomed to huge steam outfits, had required 
such a type. But the sixty horse-power giant demanded 
too much attention, too much skill in operation. Too 
many farmers, following the fashion, bought powerful 
machines for which they had no practical use. In 1914, 
there was a partial crop failure and many purchasers were 
unable to meet the deferred payments, which necessarily 
had to be so much larger than the sums they were accus 
tomed to pay for implements. As a result of crop condi 
tions and the outbreak of war in Europe, the land boom 
in western Canada collapsed. The great Rumely tractor 
and thresher consolidation effected in 1912 failed, and 
Harvester experienced the most unfortunate credit ratio 
in its history. The Company had exceeded all others 
in sales volume because of its great distributing ability; 
but its position was nevertheless not a dominating one. 
That was to come with the small tractor which could be 
built in quantities by production methods and which, 
consistent with Harvester traditions, could be a machine 
for all farmers. An industry may render service best 
when it deals with the many, not with the few. 

The credit for producing the first light tractor must be 
given to the Bull Tractor Company, which in 1913 intro 
duced a remarkable and radically different machine. 
The tractor weighed only three thousand pounds. It was 
provided with a single huge bull wheel and a direct con 
nected two-cylinder engine without transmission gears 


or differential. It sold for the unbelievably low price of 
$395. The little Bull gave place next year to the Big 
Bull, a slightly more powerful machine. It was never a 
mechanically sound product, but its commercial popu 
larity was such that it swept the field. 

International Harvester was quick to follow this oppor 
tunity. It introduced a kerosene-burning, slow-speed, 
single-cylinder machine with planetary transmission and 
a single drive chain, known as the Mogul 8-16 (meaning 
eight horse-power at the drawbar and sixteen at the belt 
pulley), which was built at Tractor Works. Then, be 
cause of the fact that there were two lines of dealers to 
foster, another tractor was developed at Milwaukee, the 
Titan 10-20. This was a two-cylinder affair with high- 
tension ignition, a standard type of transmission, and a 
double chain drive. It had been intended to accompany 
the Deering line, just as the Mogul was classified with 
the McCormick; but this plan of alleviations would not 
work. The same men had designed both machines, and 
quite naturally they built into the second the experience 
gained in making the first. Furthermore, the Mogul 
would pull two plow bottoms under average conditions, 
whereas the more powerful Titan would handle three. 

The Company was still making large tractors both at 
Milwaukee and at Tractor Works; but the vitality of 
the industry lay in the smaller machines. In 1915, the 
financial situation of farmers began to improve, and, 
spurred by the prospect of war prices, they planned to 
bring more extensive acreage into production. So strong 
Was their interest in labor-saving, cost-reducing equip 
ment that manufacturers and salesmen began to engage 
in a mad scramble to enter the tractor business. A man 
with any new idea would build a tractor around it and 
rush out to the country to look for purchasers. There 


were one hundred and thirty listed tractor companies, 
whereas but fifty were actually able to make deliveries. 

The Winnipeg contest had given place to one at Fre 
mont, Nebraska. With the great spread of tractor inter 
est, it became necessary in 1916 to organize a circuit of 
large demonstrations. Numberless local shows also took 
place in connection with county fairs or to settle com 
petitive controversies. The national demonstrations 
were held in sequence at Dallas, Hutchinson, St. Louis, 
Fremont, Cedar Rapids, Bloomington, Indianapolis, and 
Madison. Tractor farming was becoming the order of the 
day. Nearly all the machines manufactured in 1916 were 
sold in the United States. The war-time demand was 
especially keen in 1917, when, out of a total of over 
sixty-two thousand made, fifteen thousand were shipped 
abroad. England, France, and Italy bought most of 
them to aid their food production. 

In 1918, tractor production more than doubled. There 
were over two hundred tractor companies competing for 
the rapidly growing business. Bull dropped out of the 
picture, and Holt was making treads for tanks. Most of 
the manufacturers were transient companies which fell 
quickly or never got started. Many of the pioneers of 
the tractor industry had collapsed with the decline of 
the big tractor and more of the weaker newcomers were 
passing out each year. Nevertheless, the insatiable war 
time demands for food production and the soaring prices 
of farm products made the problem of tractor manu 
facture seem easy. International Harvester was the 
leading producer, followed by Case, Avery, and Moline. 

Henry Ford s intention to build farm tractors was 
announced in 1915, and, though he probably never said 
it, he was credited with the intention of selling his pro 
posed machine for two hundred dollars. The miracles 


he had accomplished with his car made the public believe 
that, when it appeared, it would be the last word, and 
that a jitney tractor* would bring salvation to agri 
culture. He had been conducting experimental work for 
a long time on his own estates and began production 
in 1917 with the sale of six thousand to the British 
Government. Ford tractors first appeared on American 
farms in 1918. 

The Ford tractor or Fordson, as it was properly 
called was the first of the unit types to achieve wide 
spread popularity. Its comparatively low price soon 
gave it the leading position in the industry and its con 
struction helped to set the type for all tractors of that 
day. There can be no question that the development of 
tractor design had been to a certain extent haphazard. 
For years it had been entirely in the hands of implement 
men who had too slight a contact with the refinements 
and research of the automobile industry. Because it is 
so purely a farm machine, it was eminently correct for 
the tractor to remain an inherent part of the implement 
business ; and therefore it can be understood why, before 
1917, it partook so little of automobile standards. The 
first machines had depended upon their bulk of material 
to give them strength. Even the intermediate tractors, 
like the Mogul and the Titan, were excessively heavy, 
weighing two hundred pounds for each engine horse 
power as compared to one hundred and fifty-six pounds 
for the tractor of 1931. With them began the inclusion of 
modern features, such as high duty bearings and alloy 
steels, but they did not in any intimate way resemble the 
precision engineered and manufactured masterpiece of 

Also in 1917, the Society of Tractor Engineers amalga 
mated with the Society of Automotive Engineers. Im- 


mediately the tractor companies gained the benefit of the 
experience-earned knowledge of the automobile world. 
This the tractor men needed badly. There were many 
things they did not know about the fine points of internal 
combustion, gears, and the like; much that they had to 
learn about heat treatment of steel and the strength 
of materials. Standardization of parts, also, although 
widely practiced in the case of agricultural implements, 
had made but slight progress in tractors. Such refine 
ment of design as made the Ford tractor noteworthy had 
been too much a closed book. 

Looking ahead from that time or back from this, I can 
realize how much the International Harvester Company 
had to learn ; and I can take pride in the speed with which 
we acquired and assimilated the necessary knowledge. 
That we were able to do so was our salvation. The Mogul 
8-1 6 had given way to a four-cylinder tractor of the same 
power; but the good old Titan 10-20 still forged on, most 
popular of all tractors, and the men of Milwaukee Works 
were accustomed to relate proudly how one was started 
every four-and-a-half minutes. Even In 1919, tractors 
were the largest single item of our production. We knew 
how much money they were saving farmers, we knew 
what service they were performing. And we knew that 
the story of farm power, begun when the reaper took the 
place of a scytheman s muscles, was being retold in 
the tractor. 


SHORTLY after the formation of the International Har 
vester Company was announced in 1902, certain indi 
viduals raised the cry that here was another private 
corporation formed to mulct the public. The early years 
of the twentieth century were a period when many be 
lieved that consolidation was intended to enrich a few 
business barons at the expense of the many. Politicians 
all over the country began to inveigh against the trusts/ 
political campaigns turned on the question, people be 
came aroused at what they feared would be an invasion 
of personal well-being by private capital. It is therefore 
probable that, whether it deserved it or not, rural opinion 
would have been skeptical of the new corporation. 

The early skepticism was temporarily fanned into 
active opposition by petty politicians, eager to ride to 
higher offices on such public clamor as they could arouse. 
It is pleasant to know that long since, after the hue and 
cry has been faced and has subsided and, out of closer 
acquaintance with the Company, farmers have learned 
to regard it with respect and esteem. They have discov 
ered the benefit to them of Harvester s business methods, 
and they have come to appreciate the quality of its 
machines and its services. They have heard charges 
made, they have seen lawsuits filed, the stated object of 
which was to protect the farm from the grasp of the 
harvester trust and now they know that the tribu 
nals of the public have vindicated the Company from 
every charge of wrongful practice. Rural opinion is no 
longer skeptical : it is positive, hearty, friendly in a man- 


to-man sort of way. Out of their own experience farmers 
have welcomed the International Harvester Company 
to the farm side of the farm problem. 

But in 1905, officials in certain States began to attack 
the Company. Their cry was that the agricultural im 
plement trust enjoyed a monopoly because of valuable 
patent rights; that prior to 1902, the trade was in a 
normal, healthy condition, and that the only possible 
object of consolidation was more easily to crush com 
petitors and gouge consumers; that prices and profits had 
been materially increased; that the products of the new 
company were sold cheaper abroad than at home, thus 
making the American farmer pay the price of volume 
production ; and that individual representatives had com 
mitted every crime in the penal code of commerce. 

As is known to-day, this local agitation was the result 
of the acts of other consolidations, or the refusal of the 
Harvester Company to submit to public or private ex 
tortion, or the endeavor of self-seeking minor officials 
to get preferment out of what they thought would be a 
popular clamor, or it arose simply out of the trust- 
busting temper of the times. I presume that I myself, 
who am so obviously partisan and who know so inti 
mately the high ideals inherited by my father and his 
associates from my grandfather, am not equipped to 
speak impartially on these matters. I also know we 
salesmen were invariably cautioned to live our business 
lives by the same high dictates of personal conscience 
which guided the owners of the business and our other 
superior officers. And I am very well aware how, now 
that legal difficulties are happily a thing of the past and 
the Company has been vindicated, these ideals have 
permeated every rank of the many associated activities. 
They have inspired all Harvester men to a business life 


hewn four-square with the best rules of ethical conduct. 
I venture to state that if a Harvester man now chose to 
commit an economic crime, the sin would expose itself. 

Whether or not I may qualify sufficiently as an his 
torian to speak impersonally of these matters, let me say 
this in comment on the charges: They are all of them 
false. No one of them has ever been proved in or out of 
court. All of them have been disproved to the complete 
satisfaction of every court or other tribunal that has ever 
considered them. One and all have been withdrawn, 
jointly or severally, by every State or Federal prosecutor 
who has ever attacked the Company. In all its history 
the sole fault found with the Company has been its size 
resulting from consolidation, not its conduct. Because of 
this, it has paid the penalty of years of litigation. But if 
institutions, like people, may be judged by their acts, it 
can be proud of the fact that no competitor, few retail 
dealers, and scant farmers have ever testified against it. 

The selling branch of the Harvester Company was 
fined in Arkansas in 1906 because of the size of its capital 
and withdrew from the State until 1913 when the hostile 
law was repealed at the request of the entire agricul 
tural and business community. Ouster proceedings were 
brought in Kansas in 1906 and settled in 1910. Many 
farmers testified that prices had not been increased and 
that service had been improved. The State Supreme 
Court therefore assessed a fine on purely legal grounds and 
permitted the business to continue, holding that it was 
not in the public interest to eject the Company. In 1907, 
an ouster suit was brought in Missouri which resulted in 
the complete exoneration of the Company as to every 
thing except the legality of its formation through con 
solidation, a suspended sentence on that sole ground, and 
this flattering statement by Missouri s Chief Justice: It 


would be an injury to the people of this State to forbid 
the International Harvester Company to do business 
here/ In 1907, the Company evacuated Texas to protect 
its employees who would have been liable to personal 
fines if they sold its commodities within that State, and 
thereafter a judgment of ouster was entered. When I 
.was a branch manager in Kansas and Oklahoma, I used 
to stand by the border of forbidden Texas and long to 
explore it, but we were under the strictest orders not to 
go. But in 1919, after the decree of ouster had been 
modified to permit it to return, the Harvester Company 
came back to the State by invitation of the people. In 
Kentucky, where eighty-eight per cent of all fines col 
lected went as fees to public officials, the Company fled 
from a horde of petty county suits and remained away 
until the State anti-trust laws were declared uncon 

After the period of local attacks, Harvester was called 
upon to face the hostility of the United States Govern 
ment, which was a far more serious matter. The first 
of the two Federal suits, which shadowed the middle 
period of the Company s history, was brought in 1912 as 
a partial result of an investigation by the United States 
Bureau of Corporations. The Government s petition 
charged that the Company had been formed to effect a 
competition-destroying monopoly in harvesting machin 
ery and binder twine. It claimed that over eighty-five 
per cent of all harvesting equipment sold in the United 
States were International products; that prices had been 
advanced to the grave injury of the farmer; and that the 
Company had striven successfully to eliminate competi 
tion. This had been accomplished, it was alleged, by 
exclusive contracts with local dealers, by threats to 
dealers, and by gobbling up all available dealers. A 


huge patent monopoly had been created, it was averred, 
thus preventing others from entering the harvester field. 
It was charged that competitors had been purchased and 
absorbed and their products abandoned once they were 
out of the way, that potential competitors were frightened 
off, and that unfair trade practices were resorted to in 
order to injure existing competitors. 

These charges were unjust and untrue. They hurt 
both the Company s business and its ability to serve the 
farmer. Self-seeking politicians cheered and farmers 
wondered how an institution they were learning to re 
spect could be so sinful. Harvester men, who knew the 
Company s policy because they were its living expression, 
bitterly resented the accusations. It became their turn 
to applaud when testimony in the case was taken. The 
Government could find in the entire country but a cor 
poral s guard of witnesses to come forward and testify 
against the Company. Several of the harshest allegations 
were abandoned when the case came to trial. All of them 
just as in the earlier State ouster suits except the 
charge of a preponderant percentage in the old harvester 
lines, fell to the ground for want of even the slightest 
shred of proof. 

It would be tedious to follow the case through the story 
of the testimony of twelve hundred witnesses which filled 
ten thousand printed pages. Suffice it to say that Judges 
Smith and Hook, of the United States District Court of 
Minnesota, gave the Company a clean bill of health for 
its conduct, but convicted it because of its origin through 
the consolidation of former competitors. Judge Sanborn 
dissented, holding that the absence of injury to the 
public and the freedom of competition that had been 
proved should govern the issue. 

The adverse decision of the Court was not based on 


the ground that the organizers of the Company had an 
unlawful purpose, or that competition was not free and 
active, or that the Company s business conduct had been 
wrongful. On the contrary, Harvester s methods were 
characterized as honorable, clean, and fair/ and the 
many charges of improper business practices made in the 
Government petition were called unwarranted and with 
out foundation. The legal issue, as it lay in the minds of 
the majority of the Court, was this: The consolidation of 
the five companies in 1902 had quite naturally eliminated 
competition between them. Trade in binders, mowers, 
and rakes was held to be directly restrained by the fact 
that International thus acquired such a substantial per 
centage of the total business. This restraint was held to 
create a potential monopoly in violation of the Sherman 
Law, not because of the Company s actual conduct, but 
because of its alleged power to dominate a power 
which probably did not exist and certainly had not been 
exercised. The Court therefore ordered the Company 
dissolved into such separate parts as would be necessary 
to restore competition. 

It is hard to believe that the mild-tempered president 
of the International Harvester Company, whose great 
sense of honor and justice and fair play had set the pat 
tern for his organization s conduct, was not disgusted 
when he said: The conclusion arrived at seems to be 
that the Harvester is a good but illegal trust. Its business 
has been conducted fairly and the economies secured by 
its organization have inured to the benefit of its cus 
tomers, the farmers, but nevertheless its existence is 

The opinion of the Court was filed in August, I9H- 
The International Harvester Company immediately 
appealed to the United States Supreme Court. There, 


because of the importance of the legal issues involved, 
it was set at the head of the docket and was argued in 
April, 1915. The Justices could not agree, so they or 
dered a rehearing. A year and a half dragged along, with 
no adjudication of the Government s interpretation of 
the Sherman Law and no relief for the Company from 
the threat of dissolution. Early in 1917, it was thought 
by both sides that the Harvester case could be heard 
simultaneously with the case of the United States Steel 
Corporation, both of which turned on the question 
whether a combination which occupied a preponderant 
position in its business constituted a violation of the 
law. Again the case was argued and again the Supreme 
Court failed to reach an agreement. The situation was 
getting desperate. 

In the meantime the United States had entered the 
World War. Seven important anti-trust suits, including 
the Harvester and Steel cases, were awaiting judicial 
settlement. If the Government should win, seven im 
portant sources of munitions and supplies essential to 
the country and to the war might be crippled, and any 
new financing required by a dissolution decree would 
draw funds away from the Nation s war chest. So, early 
in 1918, they were all postponed. Further delay was 
more than the long-suffering International Harvester 
Company could stand, and in the following summer it 
accepted terms of honorable surrender. Any definite 
situation was to be preferred to the uncertainty of never- 
ending litigation. 

Formed in 1902 with no wrongful purpose and in the 
belief that it was entirely legal, the Company had from 
1905 been the object of attack in various State courts. 
Its conduct had invariably been found blameless. The 
Federal suit was brought in 1912, and six years later it 


was still undecided. If the Government should win, the 
Company would be dismembered in 1918 or some later 
year on the strength of testimony taken in 1913 for legal 
errors committed in 1902, In the meantime the war had 
played havoc with its entire affairs. For business reasons, 
the foreign factories and sales as well as the bulk of the 
new lines had been segregated in a separate company, 
the International Harvester Corporation. But, because 
of war losses, the Corporation could not find capital, for 
example for needed tractor expansion; and if the original 
company were dissolved, it could give the Corporation 
no financial assistance. Therefore, it was obviously 
necessary to put the two halves of the business together 
again, provided an understanding with the Government 
could be reached. Any even partly satisfactory com 
promise would be better than continued nerve-racking 

A so-called consent decree of 1918, which was later 
approved by the Court, was arranged between the Har 
vester lawyers, John P. Wilson, Edgar A. Bancroft, and 
William D. McHugh, who had so ably led the Com 
pany s long fight, and the Attorney-General. The appeal 
to the Supreme Court was dismissed, which in effect 
sustained the Government s view of the legal issue. The 
International agreed to divest itself of the Osborne, 
Champion, and Milwaukee lines of harvesting machines 
and the works where they were made. Beginning with 
1920, it was to have no more than one dealer in a town. 
At the end of eighteen months after the close of the war, 
the Government was to have the right to reopen the case 
to determine whether these measures had resulted in 
the restoration of competition. As a by-product of this 
compromise, Harvester was to be permitted to take on 
the manufacture and sale of plows which was only 


fair, since it could not hope to sell the three harvester 
lines except to some plow group. But under this de 
cree a considerable volume of sales and the goodwill 
of three established trade names would be transferred 
away from the International to competitors, who would 
thereby grow stronger. Also, whatever it might gain 
from entry into the already occupied plow field would 
hardly compensate for the loss of five thousand organized 
and effective retail selling agencies with which business 
to the amount of $17,000,000 a year was then being done. 
Cyrus H. McCormick doubtless felt as dispirited as did 
his father when he was denied the extension of his patents 
or was beaten by Manny. 

If the very natural desire to be free from the Dam- 
oclean threat of the Government suit was not an amply 
sufficient reason for the Harvester Company s agreement 
to the so-called consent decree, it may also be understood 
that at the same time the war was presenting an appar 
ently insuperable obstacle to progress. But, however 
difficult had been the years since 1914, the outbreak of 
the war furnished the best possible tribute to the basic 
nature of the Company s activities and to the world-wide 
need for its services. The armies might fight, but they 
and the civilian population behind them had to eat. Men 
were with the colors, and, as in the case of the American 
Civil War, machines alone could take their places on the 
farms of the embattled nations. Quite naturally the war 
restricted the Harvester Company s former European 
volume; but farms demanded equipment, and, with the 
exception of a few small implement factories in France, 
Bohemia, Sweden, and England, there were practically 
no European manufacturers of harvesting and other 
agricultural machinery. The world trade was virtually 
in the hands of Americans and Canadians. The Inter- 


national Harvester Company was the largest factor, with 
Massey-Harris of Toronto second. When women took 
the place of men on the farms of France, Germany, and 
Britain, and when great estates, hitherto devoted to 
other purposes, were turned to grain production, Har 
vester s machines were required in great numbers* Its 
binders and mowers were rushed to take the place of the 
still-used scythe, its tractors were pressed into service 
in the stead of farm horses become army mounts. Under 
the compulsion of war necessity, Europe learned, as had 
America, that farm production costs could be reduced 
by the use of modern equipment. 

The foreign factories, if they were able to operate at 
all, were quite naturally hampered by the difficulty of 
securing adequate materials. The German twine mill had 
to close because of inability to secure a supply of fiber, 
and the French factory was being used as a cavalry bar 
racks by the Germans. As soon as the United States 
entered the war, the German factory passed out of the 
Company s control and into the hands of a government 
receiver. But prices of farm products were rising in the 
face of the unusual demand for food, and the volume of 
sales remained fairly steady. The various governments, 
of course, controlled purchases and restricted them to 
necessities; so it can be said that International Harvester 
implements and tractors served the cause of food pro 
duction as ably as had McCormick reapers in Civil War 

As the war dragged along, it became apparent that 
decline of business would not be the only loss the Com 
pany would have to face. Because of the non-existence 
of exchange, it had been impossible to transfer funds 
from parts of Europe to America. All trade with Ger 
many was embargoed; Russia was living behind a wall 


of war. The Russian factory continued to operate during 
1917; but when the Russian political, economic, and 
social structure collapsed, it became known that the 
losses in central and eastern Europe would be calamitous. 
When the picture of this disaster became complete 
after the war, the Company had to face the fact that 
every penny it had ever invested in Russia had gone. All 
of the profits of the Russian business up to 1914 had been 
put back into the many branch warehouses and the 
factory; and after the commencement of the war the 
great stocks of machines and materials on hand had been 
converted. The proceeds were on deposit in various 
banks, the value of which paper, after the Bolshevik 
rebellion, declined to nothing. The factory itself re 
mained in the hands of Harvester representatives until 
1924, when the Soviet Government simply walked in 
and took it over, without payment or promise of one cent 
of compensation. It did this because the Company was 
obviously unwilling to sink additional money in Russia 
and continued to operate the plant only so long as ma 
terials could be purchased from the proceeds of the con 
stantly decreasing Russian business itself. Russia needed 
machines, but the total collapse of the nation s structure 
made the hoe rather than the lobogreika the necessary 
measure of farm equipment. Factory, warehouses, in 
ventories, and bank deposits everything Harvester 
had in Russia vanished. Such satisfaction as the Com 
pany could find in the fact that, due to the faith of the 
workmen, the plant remained in its possession long after 
every other foreign property had been nationalized, was 
the sole compensation for twenty years of service to 
Russian agriculture. There were losses, too, in Germany, 
Austria, and Roumania. The French factory had been 
stripped of every bit of equipment. The sum of the cost 


of the war was staggering. The International Harvester 
Company remained solvent only because of wise manage 
ment, a widely diversified world business, and an aggres 
sively conservative financial system. 

The effect of the war in America was measured by the 
frantic war-born industrial boom. The Company s war 
record, though perhaps praiseworthy, was not essentially 
different from that of many other great American com 
mercial institutions. Its subscriptions to loans and its 
donations to war charities were large; many of its em 
ployees enlisted in the army or the navy, and too many 
fell in defense of the country; and at one time or another 
four of the seven chief operating officials were in Govern 
ment service in Washington. It also made enormous 
numbers of shell-adapters, hand grenades, motor-truck 
bodies, transport wagons, and artillery wheels; but its 
best service of supply was to produce its own essential 

It can be easily remembered how the war-time demand 
for labor, food, and every type of supply sent the cost of 
all production skyrocketing. Where conservative busi 
ness men would have much preferred a stable market, the 
price of every article of consumption increased. Steel, 
pig iron, and lumber advanced; and wages more than 
doubled. Then men discovered that each one of them was 
not only an employee whose pay envelope was thicker, 
but also a consumer of other people s products, and that 
price was, after all, merely a reflection of cost. Thus the 
High Cost of Living came to be a subject of general dis 
cussion, too many people in all walks of life sought^ to 
counteract this new and mysterious doctrine by getting 
more in income than they gave in efficiency, the evil of 
cost plus war production sapped the morals of manage 
ment and labor alike, and the war stalked into history, 


as sorry a thing for civilians as for the men at the front. 

By the beginning of 1919, when every one was expect 
ing war prosperity to crash, the cost of living had in 
creased seventy per cent as compared with 1914, the 
wages of Harvester workers had doubled, purchased 
materials had kept pace, and the price of its machines 
had advanced by a half. The prices of most articles used 
by American manufacturers, as for example steel and 
coal, were stabilized under Government control; and 
farm products, as for example wheat, were similarly regu 
lated. But America paid dearly for what it had to buy 
from abroad. Nitrates made Chile rich, and a sisal fiber 
monopoly in Yucatan took millions from the American 
user of binder twine. Fiber rose to the hitherto un 
dreamed-of height of nineteen cents per pound, but 
Mexico lay beyond the reach of the arm of the Sherman 
Law. Then, because the fattened prosperity of war days 
did not seem to vanish easily, all classes of men went 
economically rnad. Possessions were discarded in favor 
of new purchases, labor demanded and secured an in 
creasing portion of the consumer s dollar, prices soared 
beyond the artificially high levels of the war, and quick 
riches for all took the place of efficiency as a living ideal. 
By the end of 1920, when the specter of reckoning stalked 
upon the scene, wages throughout the country were two- 
and-a-half times the rate of 1914, and the weighted cost 
of living, which reflected the higher price of everything 
one had to buy, had doubled. 

It is true of the agricultural implement business that, 
although its peaks and valleys roughly follow general busi 
ness, both depression and recovery reach it later than the 
rest of commerce and industry. Depression moves from 
the East to the West: scattered fanners of the country 
feel trends and tendencies less quickly than do the organ- 


ized inhabitants of an urban community. But hindsight 
is always better informed than foresight, and it is prob 
able that these economic axioms were not appreciated 
in 1921. At all events, every business unit which did not 
immediately feel a cessation of buying power and recog 
nize depression believed that, by the operation of some 
special providence, its own sales would continue una 
bated. This error of judgment seriously affected the 
whole of American industry. 

The stronger implement companies, such as Deere, 
Oliver, Massey-Harris, Case, and Harvester, had realized 
that the frantic prosperity of those days was not real. 
They did not know when the break would come, but some 
of them had had foresight enough to create special re 
serves to provide for the sure losses of an indeterminate 
future. They were able to pull through while some 
weaker companies were wiped out; and they did so in 
spite of the fact that the depression years following 1920 
were more disastrous than the damage occasioned by 
the war. 

The measure of that business disaster, when the Inter 
national Harvester Company rocked and bowed before 
the storm that wrecked so many enterprises, is quickly 
told. Wages were twice reduced; the salary of every 
executive, high and low, was cut; expenditures for im 
provements, shut off for a time during the war, were 
again restricted ; and all the factories were closed or oper 
ated on pitiably reduced schedules. The 1921 business 
amounted to but half of the previous year s volume. 
Large losses were sustained in the domestic trade, the 
only profit earned was made abroad, and reduced divi 
dends were paid out of surplus. In 1922, the situation 
was slightly better or perhaps it would be more accu 
rate to say that Harvester men had become somewhat 


more accustomed to their misfortune. The price of every 
article sold by the Company had, of course, been slashed 
to the bone, but buying did not revive. The year s net 
profits again failed by several million dollars to provide 
even the reduced dividends. 

It must not be thought that this was an isolated 
tragedy. The whole economic mechanism of American 
life was crippled ; and the business of fanning together 
with everything dependent upon it suffered most of 
all. The price of wheat, which in the halcyon days of the 
war had been kept down to three dollars a bushel, fell 
in 1921 to a dollar. Cotton dropped twenty cents a 
pound. Corn remained unharvested in the fields or was 
burned for fueL The price of cattle and hogs fell until 
every animal was a liability. Worst of all, the farmers 
had, in effect, been speculating as wildly in land as urban- 
ites had been in the swollen profits of industry. Land 
values collapsed all over the country, and many a hard 
working purchaser of inflated acres was immediately 
bankrupt. The country banks had lent money to finance 
the acquisition, for double and treble prices, of fields 
which could not possibly be made to pay, now that the 
days of high prices for farm products were over. They 
could foreclose on their mortgages, but that would avail 
them nothing. Frozen credits became the order of the 
day in the country as in the city. The farmer could not 
make a profit on what he had to sell, his usual channels 
of credit were closed, he had nothing wherewith to buy. 
All he could do was hope and go on working. 

The enormous damage caused by the depression can be 
appreciated when it is remembered that, before the end 
of 1920, the International Harvester Company had pro 
vided an inventory of materials for a 1921 business which 
was expected to be huge. The inflated value of this in- 


ventory was due to the highest cost of materials in all 
the Company s history. Then the decline began. Al 
most overnight steel, for example, fell from a high point 
of the year of seventy-five dollars per ton to thirty 
dollars. Machines made of high-priced material had 
to be sold for depreciated values. Therefore, the Com 
pany had not only to bear the brunt of the shrinkage of 
its own inventory value, but was compelled either to 
sustain those of its dealers who had stocked up with 
machines in anticipation of bumper business or to see 
them collapse. It withstood the shock by the same 
means that had aided it through the calamity of war 

Without any question wise management had much to 
do with the fact that International Harvester succeeded 
in weathering the storm. Since late 1918, Cyrus H. 
McCormick had been chairman of the board, and, 
although no longer directly concerned with the details of 
operations, his kindly and wise influence was strong. 
His brother Harold, a product of the same tradition, was 
president for a time and Alex Legge was general man 
ager Legge, the same forceful leader of other days, 
but with his experience deepened and his outlook broad 
ened by contact with the many leaders the war brought 
to Washington. The various operating departmental 
heads were largely the same men as those who had given 
Harvester Spirit to the organization. Now, however, 
their duty was to rein in instead of to push on toward the 
triumphs of an expanding business. They used the tragic 
lessons of the period of depression to make the Company 

No amount of efficiency alone, however, could have 
saved money enough out of operating economies to per 
mit Harvester to live on. Huge losses were written off 


both in 1921 and 1922 to cover inventory depreciation. 
The Harvester management had known that the agri 
cultural implement industry must be as prepared for 
valleys as for peaks, and that the abnormal prosperity of 
post-war days could not last forever. It did not foresee 
the imminence of the crash, but it had planned against 
ultimate depression by storing up a buffer of accumulated 
reserves. As the price of materials and labor increased, 
beginning in 1917, a suitable portion of the earnings was 
segregated against inevitable reaction by carrying the 
basic inventory at 1916 costs. This advance provision 
of a cushion to soften the blow of an unseen storm was 
badly needed; for during the two years of business de 
pression, the Company consumed all the reserves, made 
virtually no profit, and met such reduced dividends as it 
paid out of surplus. When, by the end of 1922, costs of 
materials had settled down to a new and saner level, the 
price of incipient disaster had been met out of inventory 
write-downs and reduced surplus. Parenthetically it is 
pleasant to record the fact that the cushion policy of 
advance provision for an unexpected business decline is 
being continued through the medium of reserves. 

By 1923, the low prices for farm products recovered 
somewhat, the farmer began to buy again, and Interna 
tional s business began slowly to recover. But in July of 
that year, the skies again darkened as the Attorney- 
General of the United States filed a petition to reopen the 
old anti-trust suit and the settlement of 1918. This time 
the Government s concern was more for Harvester s com 
petitors than for the farmer. The main allegation was 
that the 1918 consent decree had failed to reestablish 
competition and that the Harvester Company was selling 
at cost with a view of eliminating competitors. It was 
said that the sale of the Champion, Osborne, and Mil- 


waukee lines had achieved merely an immaterial effect, 
and that their purchasers and other competitors were 
growing weaker each year under the strokes of Interna 
tional policy. Where the original suit had sought to prove 
injury to the farmer through overpricing and other al 
leged nefarious acts (all of which were disproved), the 
second suit suggested that competitors were being harmed 
by underpricing. 

The St. Paul District Court, however, found otherwise. 
In May, 1925, two of the three judges decided for the 
Company. They found that trade was free and not re 
strained or monopolized, that the Harvester Company s 
portion of the country s harvesting machinery trade had 
declined, and that prices were low and favorable to the 
farmer. One judge held that because of its size the Com 
pany had the power to do evil, and should therefore be 
restrained. This time it was the Government, the loser 
in the case, that appealed to the Supreme Court. 

There, in 1927, it pleaded that competition similar to 
what had existed before 1902 should be reestablished ; but 
this contention the Court refused to sustain. It expressed 
the opinion that the Harvester Company had complied 
with the 1918 decision in good faith and should not be 
dismembered. Much of the evidence had been founded 
on a 1920 report of the Federal Trade Commission which, 
on the basis of ex parte evidence taken in advance of the 
test period provided by the Court s decision, had ex 
pressed the belief that the consent decree would prove a 
failure. This report the Supreme Court brushed aside, 
as it did all of the Government s argument. The growth 
of the Company was due to the development of the full 
line, not to the disputed harvesting machinery. The 
sale of the three lines to responsible manufacturers had 
been made as required by the 1918 decree. The limitation 


to but one dealer in a community had been adhered to 
and had been of substantial assistance to competitors, 
as they themselves had testified. Harvester had not used 
its strength oppressively, it had not sought to dominate 
the trade, it had not employed unfair practices against 
competitors. The law/ said the Supreme Court, does 
not make the mere size of a corporation ... an offense 
when unaccompanied by unlawful conduct in the exercise 
of its power. 

The opinion went on to point out that in 1923 the 
International had as many and stronger harvesting- 
machine competitors than in 1911; that its percentage 
of the trade had declined; and that the entry of new com 
petitors into the field proved the freedom of competitive 

Thus at last, after so many years of doubt, the Inter 
national Harvester Company was free. The case had 
dragged along for such a time that harvesting machines, 
for which the Government was fighting, were no longer a 
major consideration in the industry. The very charge 
had veered from high prices and injury to consumers to 
low prices and injury to competitors. Three of the nine 
Justices of the Court had through the years become dis 
qualified by participation in or contact with the early 
stages of the case. The Company, organized in 1902 and 
pilloried from 1905 to 1927, was at last returned to ordi 
nary life and to the judgment of ordinary rules of conduct 
where an individual may be valued, not by a nonex 
istent reputation, but by his acts. 

I shall never forget the scene in the Harvester offices 
as word of the Supreme Court s decision, read with due 
preliminary formality and distressing deliberation, kept 
coming over the long-distance telephone. I suppose we 
might have preserved a philosophic calm but we could 


not. With the words, We cannot sustain this conten 
tion . . . we knew that we had won. We had known that 
we were right but were we within the law? 

We had the tradition of an ideal of service behind us; 
the fruition of our hopes lay ahead. Perhaps we had 
been attending too much to our business and had taken 
too little time for the theories underlying academic debate, 
perhaps we lived too close to the actuality of existence 
to have sufficient concern for the maze of the law. We 
could not understand why, if our acts measured four 
square with every standard of business conduct, we 
should be drawn and quartered for the legal errors of 
1902. Now we knew we were lawful as well as right and 
could continue our work. Again that subtle influence 
called Harvester Spirit, working quietly and grandly and 
justly in our lives and in the deeds which were the con 
structive reaction of our efforts, had rescued the Com 
pany from the supposed hostility of the alleged law. 

Of all the baseless charges leveled at the Harvester 
Company throughout the years, there is one other which 
deserves to be dignified by more than passing mention, 
and that, not because it has ever had any foundation, 
but because of its persistence. Soon after the formation 
of the International, the story was somehow started that 
it was discriminating against American farmers and 
favoring foreign farmers by selling its American-made 
implements cheaper abroad than at home. Never the 
subject of litigation, no one proved the charge or at 
tempted to prove it; but politicians did not hesitate to 
repeat it whenever it served their interests to bait the 
Harvester Company. It persists strangely to this day, 
notwithstanding the fact that not a single instance of 
dumping Harvester goods abroad has ever been found. 

No better illustration could be discovered of the diffi- 


culty of truth overtaking falsehood. Harvester Company 
officials have denied the allegation whenever they could 
confront it. It was investigated in 1912 by direction of 
Secretary Nagel, of the Department of Commerce and 
Labor, and found to be untrue. It was investigated again 
in 1928 by the United States Consular Service at the in 
stance of Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, and 
again found to be untrue. The facts have been publicly 
referred to as conclusive by Secretary of Agriculture 
Hyde and by members of Congress. They are posted on 
the record where those who run may read and yet the 
twenty-five-year-old falsehood may be long in dying. 
The Company has never sold goods abroad at less profit 
than at home. Its foreign prices are based on the do 
mestic price with proper adjustment to cover the cost of 
export packing, freight, foreign duties, and difference in 
selling expense. The foreign farmer thus necessarily 
pays a higher price than the farmer at home; but the 
Company s price structure is fair to both. Farmers all 
over the world, the American farmer most of all, have 
gained the benefit of mass production in American 

American business men are honest, by and large ; and 
American industry is true. Its captains are not prone to 
build themselves marble mausoleums nor can they take 
their gains with them into another world. But they can 
bequeath their responsibilities to successors whom they 
have trained to carry on their work to greater heights. 
Thus they may live, and thus they may be known by 
their fruits. 


THE several years succeeding 1918 were, in the main, a 
period of recovery and reconstruction for the Interna 
tional Harvester Company. It had weathered legal 
storms in several States and then found itself really popu 
lar with its customers. Farm opinion had been won, partly 
by Harvester s honorable business conduct, mostly by a 
growing recognition of the service which, in an ever more 
definite way, it was performing for agriculture. The pe 
riod from 1914 to, say, 1922 should have been one of better 
business rising on the foundation of the Company s first 
ten years. But the Great War brought losses, the period 
of depression was fraught with misfortune, and compli 
ance with the 1918 decree added many serious problems. 
Actually, these years were a period when hope alternated 
with dashed expectations and then new plans. 

It will be remembered that the Company was com 
pelled by the terms of the 1918 consent decree to sell the 
Champion, Osborne, and Milwaukee lines of harvesting 
machinery. The first two were immediately sold, Os 
borne to the Emerson-Brantingham Company, of Rock- 
ford (present-day successor of Manny, who fought such 
stiff legal battles against the original Cyrus Hall Mc- 
Cormick), and Champion to B. F. Avery, of Louisville. 
The former enjoyed a nation-wide plow and tillage busi 
ness and, in the heyday of the big tractor, had enjoyed a 
successful threshing-machine trade. The other had an 
entirely worth-while reputation in the South, and to a 
certain extent in the Northwest as well, for its plows, 
cultivators, and other small implements. Both felt their 


positions would be strengthened by the addition of a de 
veloped, established harvesting-machine line, and both 
promised to be strong competitors. 

Neither, however, wished to buy the Osborne or Cham 
pion factories which the original decree required Har 
vester to sell, as both already possessed ample manu 
facturing capacity. So, with the consent of the Govern 
ment, the Court permitted International to continue to 
operate the two plants for other purposes. Champion 
Works was renamed Springfield and converted to motor 
truck production, and in its new guise came ultimately to 
enjoy a prosperity it had never known before. A portion 
of the Osborne establishment, now called Auburn Works, 
was retained for its traditional cultivator and tillage pro 
duction. In 1924, the Milwaukee line was sold to Moline, 
a name famous throughout the world for plows. Both 
Emerson-Brantingham and Moline had been in a strong 
financial and trade position, but they were sadly hurt by 
the depression of 1921, and, while both worked along for 
quite a while, both have recently sold out to stronger 

The single-dealer requirement was at first regarded by 
the Company s management as nothing short of a calam 
ity. Many thousand dealers had to be abandoned. Many 
were long-standing associates whose experience began in 
the old harvester days long before the consolidation. 
The choice between two friends is usually an impossible 
dilemma and such separation is too frequently the cause 
of enmity. It was believed that many of the dealers cut 
off to comply with the decree would either provide the 
severest competition or would knife the Company for 
having cast them away. Old McCormick and Deering 
dealers by the hundreds were eliminated; yet, though 
they could not have liked the situation, most of them 


understood that the dictates of the law and not the 
wishes of the Company were responsible. Where Har 
vester had 21,800 dealers in 1917, but 13,860 of these 
remained in 1919. Competitors testified in the second 
Government suit that this narrowing of the International 
sales outlet aided their own search for dealers and thus 
increased their ability to compete for harvesting-machine 

This was undoubtedly so, since no product, however 
excellent, is merchantable unless it can be placed aggres 
sively before the public. Harvester s own previous chan 
nels of distribution were partially dammed and its sales 
effort was crippled. The Company was placed in a situa 
tion that affected none of its competitors, for they could, 
if they wished, seek business relations with its dealers 
while it was prohibited from contact with theirs. While 
this fact undoubtedly caused Harvester salesmen to pur 
sue every possible opportunity for trade more keenly, it 
is also certain that it has been the cause of a smaller vol 
ume of business than would otherwise have been secured. 
But for the single-dealer limitation of the Court s decree. 
Harvester s volume would be larger than it now is. 

Nevertheless, as the years passed after 1918, it began 
to be apparent that the provision of the Court s decree 
limiting the Company to a single dealer in each com 
munity would not prove to be so great a hindrance to 
Harvester s future as had been feared. The double Mc- 
Cormick and Deering lines of implements could not be 
maintained in the United States with but one agent in a 
community. Therefore, a composite type of grain binder 
containing what were thought to be the best points of the 
two old machines, called the McCormick-Deering, was 
designed and introduced to the trade in 1923. The new 
binder was immediately followed with other implements 


which were either planned anew from the combined ad 
vantages of the two lines or were selected bodily from the 
old name groups as representing the best of the art; and 
thus the present McCormick-Deering line came into be 
ing. It, of course, included all types of farm operating 
equipment, especially the various tractor models. The 
salesmen liked it because it was complete and allowed 
them to center their effort on one instead of a double line. 

The advantage to farmers and to dealers of such a 
procedure is easily apparent. Service was facilitated. 
Each International dealer all over the length and breadth 
of the land was able to stock, sell, and service all the 
tractors, motor trucks, grain binders, harvester-threshers, 
corn tools, and the many other items of the McCormick- 
Deering line. Finally, and of possibly greater importance 
for the future, the experimental effort required to work 
out improvements was made easier and could be keener. 
A man works best when he has undivided confidence in 
the single task at hand. 

An almost equally definitive result of the 1918 decree 
was the addition of plows to the Company s business, 
This matter had long been in the minds of the salesmen, 
who had for years seen Deere, the original full-line com 
pany, expanding into the harvesting-machine field. 
Naturally they wished to take on plows. Therefore in 
1919, after a survey of existing organizations, Interna 
tional Harvester bought the Parlin and Orendorff Com 
pany, third in size of the important plow factors in the 
country. It will be remembered how the original Parlin 
came to Canton, Illinois, in 1840, and how his business, 
growing rapidly under the forward thrust of his energy, 
was given a further impulse by the genius for sales of his 
partner, OrendorfF. P & O, as the two men called their 
company, soon added walking cultivators to its line, the 


first corn lister, a sulky plow, and finally the gang plow. 
Its large heavy engine gang of 1894 has been called one of 
the first tractor plows. It made corn planters and cer 
tain beet tools, Neither the first partners nor their sons 
who succeeded them interested themselves at all in such 
production methods as standardization or the elimina 
tion of variety; for it is said that at the time of the 
purchase by Harvester they were making over fourteen 
hundred sizes and kinds of implements. 

With the addition of plows and other correlated imple 
ments, the International Harvester Company was for the 
first time able to offer a complete line of machines to the 
trade. Its full line, begun so soon after the formation of 
the Company, was at last developed at least within 
the scope of existing knowledge. This account of the in 
vention of the reaper and what came out of it is not a 
book of machinery; and yet it may be instructive to fol 
low the cycle of a farmer s year and see what part in it the 
machine descendants of the reaper can play. 

If the farmer s lot is cast in the wheat belt, he can, if he 
so desires, perform his every operation with Harvester 
equipment. He can plow his land with whatever type of 
instrument suits the condition of his soil, harrow it in any 
known way, and pack his seed-bed to conserve the sub 
surface moisture. He can drill his seed in close rows or 
wide ones, and, if he be so minded, can cover a narrow 
strip or one thirty feet wide, When his crop has ripened, 
he can harvest it with a reaper or a horse-drawn binder or 
with a wide header-harvester or a header-binder. Or he 
can gather his crop with a combined harvester-thresher 
prepared to deliver wheat in sacks or spout it into a tank. 
If his farm lies in a moist district where the grain is too 
wet at the time of harvest for threshing, and he can still 
justify a large amount of fast work, he can use a tractor 


binder. Twine to tie his sheaves is Harvester-made and 
so is his stationary threshing machine. 

A corn-belt farmer can plow his land with implements 
designed for row-crop agriculture. Then he can plant his 
corn and cultivate it with whatever implement suits his 
fancy or the fashion of his neighborhood. When harvest 
time comes, he can bind it vertically or horizontally ac 
cording to the length of the stalk ; or he can snap and husk 
the ears and shred the stalks, or pick the ears from the 
standing corn, and husk them one or two rows at a time. 
Finally, he can fill his silo, cutting his ensilage in the field 
or at his barn. 

The grass farmer may plant alfalfa and mow, rake, ted, 
load, and bale his hay. The cotton planter can plow as 
he desires, plant, cultivate, and dust his crop but he 
cannot, for the moment, pick his cotton mechanically. A 
rice farmer can use a grain binder converted for use in 
drenched fields. If the crop be potatoes, the farmer may 
plant them, cultivate them, and then dig them; or if 
beets, he can perform the various acts of planting and 

Each of these farmers can use horses or tractors as he 
pleases, and if his election should be for power farming, 
he can choose such a tractor as will meet the number of 
his acres or the type of his crop. He may haul any of his 
produce to market in a wagon or in a motor truck. He 
can grind feed for his stock or employ his winter hours in 
spreading manure or distributing fertilizer over his land. 
An engine will furnish such power as he needs. A cream 
separator will be at home in his dairy. He can do all this 
in any part of the world and all with International 
Harvester machines. 

This is in truth a full line of agricultural implements. 
But the idea of a full line was not original with the 


Harvester Company. Its own first impulse had been 
rather to round out a cycle of production and distribution 
than to be able to offer any specific full variety to its 
customers. That thought came afterward, when the for 
mer harvesting-machine men in the field began to gain 
experience with the new implements they found them 
selves handling, and discovered that in the new lines 
there lay as great a chance for service to the farmer as in 
their traditional binders and mowers. 

The addition of plows to the product of the Company 
added many new problems. As has been said, there is a 
fundamental variation between machines which work 
above the ground and those which dig beneath the sur 
face. Osborne cultivators had given much education on 
this matter which an intimate contact with plows com 
pleted. It took the great army of Harvester Company 
field experts, for example, several years before they mas 
tered completely the initial intricacies of lining up a 
plow for proper performance. Fortunately, they were 
able to bring to bear on the problem their lifelong training 
in service ideals. They stuck at it, and the ultimate solu 
tion came when they were able to connect up the needs 
of the plow with the known facts of the tractor, and to 
guide both with a renewed Harvester-bred conception 
of the service value of their work. 

In 1919, Harvester also bought the Chattanooga Plow 
Company in order to add to its full line a chilled iron 
plow, a type much favored for certain difficult soil 
conditions. The subsequent histories of P & O and of 
Chattanooga plows follow parallel lines of development 
and improvement. The demands of Harvester s custom 
ers for equipment have, since the beginning of the in 
dustry, stressed the importance of quality. As soon as 
enough experience with plows had been gained to permit 


of critical judgment, a determined effort was made to 
bring the newly acquired implements up to Harvester 
standards. But the manufacture of plows is an intricate 
business, and automotive as well as implement produc 
tion schemes had to be applied. Both plants were rebuilt 
and reequipped, and, when their methods were secure, 
they were renamed Canton Works and Chattanooga 
Works and their product was called McCormick-Deering. 
All this while Harvester salesmen were acquiring plow 
knowledge, just as their forefathers had become skilled 
with the development of harvesting machinery. The prog 
ress of power farming, in itself a story so broad that it 
must be given separate treatment, helped ; but it was at 
least 1925 before International s plow business had grown 
sufficiently to rival that of the other leaders. 

It is really remarkable that the men of the Harvester 
Company were able to accomplish so much with plows in 
a few short years. They were not laboring under any 
threat of annihilation if they did not succeed, for even 
without the plow line the business was large. They were 
not trying to fill half-empty factories or territorial ware 
houses. The influences which led them so quickly to plow 
success were positive rather than negative. These were a 
recognition of the vital importance of plows to the fuller 
development of the practice of power farming ; a desire to 
stand in the constructive position of being able to supply 
every machine need of agriculture ; and an ingrained, in 
herited impulse to do anything that would the better 
serve the farmer. Such motives were not different from 
those which had led Harvester men willingly into the un 
trodden paths of the new lines. 

It is well that the men who were making and selling 
farm equipment in the last decade of the century of the 
reaper had ideals and courage similar to those of their 


ancestors. They had lost the original binder and har 
vester supremacy they inherited at the time of the con 
solidation, just as Cyrus Hall McCormick had lost his 
supposed benefit of patent protection. But as he had 
been able to face his rivals and defeat them by means of 
his commercial sagacity, so their fostering of tractors and 
the other new-line machines allowed them to replace 
the vanishing traditional business. They were able to 
face stiffening competition by the intellectual vigor of 
their business ability. 

Harvester s post-war competitors were to prove in 
creasingly able. Massey-Harris of Canada had been 
the chief rival throughout the world. It purchased an 
American harvesting-machine plant to permit it to man 
ufacture in this country, and an American tractor to 
gether with its factory. The John Deere Plow Company 
has been the chief competitor in the United States, where 
its full line of farm operating equipment is made and 
widely sold. The J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company 
business flourished, based on its traditional threshers, on 
its quick grasp of the opportunity offered by Harvester s 
pioneering work in small combines, and on the ready wit 
with which it had first abandoned steam tractors and 
then kept abreast of internal combustion tractor design. 
With the acquisition of Emerson-Brantingham, it joined 
Deere and International as a full-line farm equipment 

Deere was late in entering the tractor game, but by 
waiting until 1919, it missed the shocks of the war which, 
with the succeeding depression, wrecked such a tragic 
number of the smaller tractor companies. When it did so, 
its wide sales outlet and historic ability gave it a place 
next to Harvester. Oliver, on the other hand, refused 
to build a tractor; and so, as soon as the tractor became 


the hub around which the whole agricultural implement 
industry revolved, its business could not follow the rise 
of power farming. It was, however, destined to become 
the leading member of another full-line consolidation, 
the Oliver Farm Equipment Company, in which Hart- 
Parr furnished the tractor. Moline grounded on the 
shoals of 1921, got a fresh start and flourished for a 
period, found itself in difficulties again, and has lately 
been absorbed by a fifth full-line organization, the Min- 
neapolis-Moline Power Implement Company. 

Companies have risen because the agricultural imple 
ment business furnishes an inspiring challenge to men who 
want to leave their mark on life; companies have fallen 
because they have been unable to subsist on abstract re 
wards and because there are so many barriers on the road 
to success. There are extended credits, expensive service, 
constant change and development of machines, and the 
peaks and valleys of farm prosperity with which to deal. 
Of course there are also financial profits as well as satis 
faction to seek, for the modern world is usually generous 
with those who render it a service. They are directly 
proportionate to the profitableness of agriculture itself. 
If farmers are prosperous, they will buy a truism which 
the implement maker knows and which it might serve 
other city dwellers to remember who have goods to sell 
and who sometimes seem to underrate the relative im 
portance of farm prosperity. 

From the beginning the Harvester Company was never 
free from competition, nor, I think, should it have wished 
to be. Men develop most finely when they are spurred on 
by the personal competition of other men. A government 
rules best when the administration has to face the 
constructive criticism of a strong opposition. Business 
cannot be static: it is either growth or decay. The har- 


vester war of the Eighteen-Nineties was cruel, disastrous 
to the weaker combatants, and yet it was inspiring in the 
way its testing brought out the finer qualities of men. 
But in the first twenty International years, competition 
had perhaps become routine. Henry Ford s presence in 
the implement province and the new type of competition 
he soon introduced returned the industry for a time to the 
atmosphere of battle. War hurts, but its searing occasion 
ally furnishes an urge to continued growth. 

In 1918, when he sold his first tractors in the United 
States and Canada, Ford distributed them through Gov 
ernment agencies as a war measure. To have convinced 
worried statesmen and the public that the tractor was 
a new device twelve years after many tractor builders 
had attained large production, and that his particular 
make would prove to be the one solution of the knotty 
problem of food production, was a supreme feat of sales 
manship. To win the news columns of the metropolitan 
press for a discussion of how the magic name of Ford 
had, at a stroke, provided an answer to a supposedly 
unrecognized demand for farm power, was magnificent 
advertising. Whatever Ford did was deemed to be for the 
real benefit of the public; and wherever he led, consumers 
followed. It is therefore not surprising that his tractor 
business increased by leaps and bounds. 

It is questionable if the business of making tractors 
would so soon have become a large-scale industry had it 
not been for Ford. He taught the manufacturing world 
how to combine large volume with the low-cost produc 
tion methods of the automobile world. In 1918, the 
manufacturing methods employed by all tractor produc 
ers were derived from implement and not automotive 
standards, and they were hardly up to date in terms of 
manufacturing progress. The record annual production 


of four thousand Mogul 8-i6 s in 1915 had been non- 
progressively assembled; and at a period in its early 
existence the flywheel of the Titan 10-20 traveled exactly 
one mile around the factory (as compared with a subse 
quent three hundred feet) before it was mounted in the 
tractor. Some few of Harvester s factory men realized 
what waste there was in such methods. The production 
cost of a grain binder was surprisingly low, but it was a 
type of manufacture which required relatively little 
machining; and when the production methods which so 
cheaply produced so many implements were applied to 
tractors, they fell short. 

During 1918 there were 133,000 tractors made in the 
United States. Ford had already usurped Harvester s 
leadership, International was second, and Case third. 
The expected drop in the war-time demand did not 
eventuate, and production mounted rapidly to the as 
tonishing total of 203,000 machines in 1920. By this 
time Ford was far in the lead and was making several 
times as many as Harvester, For the next year or two, 
three-quarters of all tractors made were Fordsons. Dur 
ing the period of depression, sales fell off to a quarter, in 
ventories of materials and unsold tractors were huge and 
high-priced, and the prospects were gloomy. Then, early 
in 1922, Henry Ford cut the price of tractors. 

That February morning is another of the many busi 
ness hours I treasure in my memory. I had taken Mr. 
Legge, the Company s beloved and hard-boiled general 
manager, on a visit to the new motor-truck installation 
at Springfield Works. As we were arguing some problem 
which then seemed to be important, the telephone rang 
Chicago wished to speak to Mr. Legge. We could, of 
course, hear only his side of the conversation. There was 
much talk from the other end, and then an explosion 



from Alex: What? What s that? How much? Two 
hundred and thirty dollars? Well, Til be... What ll we 
do about it? Do? Why, damn it all meet him, of 
course! We re going to stay in the tractor business- Yes f 
cut two hundred and thirty dollars. Both models yes, 
both. And say, listen, make it good! We ll throw in a 
plow as well!* 

The meaning of this reduction in the price was that 
Ford had determined to lose money in order to increase 
his production. International s reply was to express a 
similar (but forced) determination to meet his competi 
tion by selling at less than cost rather than to lose its 
place in the business it had been pioneering. It would be 
fruitless to rehearse the detailed story of the long tractor 
war. Harvester was waging the battle of the implement 
industry against mighty Henry Ford and the automobile. 
Ford was backed by the most popular commercial name 
of the time and the uncounted millions earned for him by 
his epoch-making car; and he was trying to capture a 
business with which he had had no previous contact. 
International had on its side many years of training 
gained from contact with farmers, less capital by far y 
and utter inexperience with defeat. Doubtless Ford had 
no overt desire to attack Harvester; for, as he said later, 
he was simply trying to find out how low the price might 
be at which farmers would buy tractors in quantities 
equivalent to automobiles. It is possible that he had over 
estimated the tractor market. There are over six million 
farms in the United States, but they cannot all of them 
employ tractors to advantage. Nevertheless, he sincerely 
thought that he had it in his power to make a constructive 
contribution to the cause of agriculture. 

The salient change devised by Ford for the tractor in 
dustry concerned itself with the method of selling. Start- 


ing with the initial advantage of a low price, he cut it to 
a level at which he readily admitted he would lose money. 
But he overran his object when he gave his tractor to 
his car dealers to sell. The farm tractor did not originate 
from the automobile; it is really a member of the imple 
ment, not of the motor-car, family. Ford dealers in the 
country were well acquainted with their customers, but 
not with their farm needs; and Ford dealers in the cities 
had no sales outlet for farm goods. Recognizing these 
truths, Ford provided an industrial model of his tractor 
for the city trade, and made arrangements for a line of 
agricultural implements to meet the supposed sales needs 
of his rural agencies. This he did by inviting certain 
companies to manufacture new and light types of farm 
machinery specially designed to accompany his tractor. 
But Ford s preparations for the provision of agricultural 
machinery were to prove inadequate and his mistake in 
this direction was one of the main reasons for his sub 
sequent retirement, for several years at least, from 
the tractor business. The implements were generally 
planned to correspond with the size of the tractor, not 
for the work they had to perform. They were engineering 
marvels, easily manufactured and cheap to build but 
they did not possess the ruggedness which ninety years 
of experience with agricultural equipment had shown to 
be necessary. Then, too, the Ford tractor itself, though 
it had been designed by the finest automobile brains 
in the world and built by the best manufacturing 
system in existence, was deficient from a farm point of 
view. It was too light to gain the traction necessary to 
pull the desired fourteen-inch plows. It lacked power 
to function in those supposedly unusual circumstances 
which, because of hostile Providence or the unevenness 
of soils, a farmer meets at least once in every round of his 


field. The Fordson was a perfect theoretical answer to an 
imperfect practical problem. It would operate success 
fully in so many conditions that huge numbers were sold ; 
but it failed in so many places that ultimately farmers 
would have no more of it. 

Harvester s answer to the Fordson attack could be 
made only with the old two-cylinder Titan 10-20, which 
even then was ready for replacement with a modern 
model, and the four-cylinder International 8-16. Under 
the terms of combat set by Ford and met by Legge, their 
prices were reduced to $700 and $670. A suitable tractor 
plow or other implement was given away with each sale. 
Even so, compared to Ford s price of $395, the appar 
ent advantage was all with the champion of automobile 

A Harvester challenge rang through the land. Every 
where any single Ford sale was rumored, the Harvester 
dealer dared the Ford representative to a contest. No 
prizes were offered, no jury awarded merit to one or an 
other contestant. No quarter was given and none was 
asked. Grimly the protagonists struggled, fiercely they 
battled for each sale. The reaper war was being refought 
with modern weapons. Supremacy in the tractor field 
was at stake. During the next three years there were 
literally thousands of these contests, and in the end 
Harvester won farmers back from price to its own version 
of quality and proved its right to survive in the tractor 
field. It demonstrated unequivocally that more stamina 
than the Fordson possessed was needed in a tractor. 

The Company won many tractor trials, but its losses 
were large. Obviously the cut price was to meet the com 
petition of Ford s policy of selling at less than cost and 
bore not the slightest relation to production costs or 
value. Under the influence of a tremendous sales cam- 


paign, the surplus inventory of tractors melted away. 
Two improved new models, the McCormick-Deering 
10-20 and 15-30, were introduced which summed up the 
entire story of Harvester s tractor experience. Millions of 
dollars were poured into the modern type of labor-saving 
manufacturing equipment. Production costs were slashed 
by the means of efficiency gained through elimination of 
waste effort. In 1924, Harvester s tractor sales increased 
as the continued pressure of the many field contests be 
gan to tell. In even greater numbers farmers were coming 
to realize that their field requirements could not be met 
with less quality than the high standards Harvester was 
building into its machines. In 1927, the number of Mc 
Cormick-Deering tractors sold passed the agricultural 
portion of Fordson sales. In 1928, when Ford s industrial 
tractor volume could no longer alone support his busi 
ness, he ceased tractor production altogether. 

I do not pretend that the so-called tractor war was as 
vital a matter for Mr. Ford as it was for the International 
Harvester Company. During these same years his motor 
car sales were annually exceeding the million mark. How 
ever much the problem of farm power appealed to his 
personal interest, tractors necessarily had to be a second 
ary consideration with him. But they were the pivot of 
Harvester s entire business. The Company was fighting 
for its traditional position of leadership in the agricultural 
equipment world. 

Where Harvester s plight had been uncertain in 1922, 
its situation in the end was one of triumph. It had proved 
to the world that a farm tractor should be sold as a part 
of a farm equipment line and should not become the 
minor brother of an automobile. It had taught itself how 
to design a better tractor than any hitherto known, and 
how to build it in terms of the highest art of production. 


Ford had convinced thousands of horse-using farmers 
that in the tractor they could find the answer to their 
power needs. International proved to them that to do 
their work they must have a superior machine. When the 
tractor war was over, the farmers of the world appreciated 
beyond a shadow of doubt that they would best serve 
themselves by providing their farms with a tractor rugged 
enough to resist the shocks of farm use and powerful 
enough to do all of their work. They knew that there 
can be no such thing as a good cheap tractor. 

It can be readily understood that the fighting spirit 
developed during the years of the tractor war, like the 
vigor generated by the battles of the harvester war, had 
a beneficial effect on every other portion of the Com 
pany s business. Nowhere was this more apparent than in 
foreign countries, where the battles had raged as fiercely 
as in the fields of Ohio or on the prairies of Kansas. 
Harvester was recovering as strikingly abroad as it was 
at home from the losses of the Great War and the depres 
sion. Standing alone, the facts of business may seem but 
a trite recital of mundane circumstances; but perhaps 
they become clothed with romance when imagination is 
allowed to picture their background. The tale of the ex 
ploration into the agricultural needs of far lands is not a 
part of this particular phase of recovery from incipient 
calamity, and I refer to it here merely because the power 
that accomplished it followed so logically as a result of the 
spirit of victory engendered by the tractor war. An en 
largement of the domestic business resulted from exactly 
the same causes; but any detailed account of it must also 
be a subsequent part of this story of Harvester progress. 

The miscellaneous items of the Company s business, 
such as steel and fiber, remained fairly constant, and the 
sale of binder twine and the old-line machines did not 


increase. But the new-line implement trade flourished as 
did the volume of repairs, which are the measure of the 
Company s increasing ability to render service. Tractor 
sales rose spectacularly from the low point of the war 
with Ford. Motor trucks also enjoyed a steady increase. 
The automotive lines constitute a full half of Harvester s 

I cannot refrain from mentioning here one motor 
truck incident of 1921 which indicates that, however 
much a renewed spirit of determination was kindled by 
the tractor war, it had by no means died out before that 
event. Really, Ford s attack gave a new and stronger 
purpose to a great and by no means obsolete ability. 

The depression of 1921 found Springfield Works carry 
ing a large inventory of purchased motors, transmissions, 
axles, and other motor-truck parts. In accordance with 
another of Legge s brilliant schemes to start business 
going again, these parts were assembled and sold to the 
Company s own dealers at a considerably reduced figure. 
The plan was to use them in a great canvassing effort 
designed to start trade going. They were painted a bright 
red, and were, to say the least, spectacular as they dashed 
across the countryside carrying goods to farmers which 
farmers would not come to town to seek. They could not 
fail to bring home to agriculturists the message that 
Harvester was confident of their future and its own. 
Some friendly wag coined for these crimson messengers 
of prosperity the homely but expressive name Red 
Babies. They did their work and even to-day a farm 
implement dealer s delivery truck, whatever its make or 
whatever his allegiance, is called a Red Baby in many 
sections of the country. 

Perhaps the moral of the Red Baby story is that usual 
business methods will not suit unusual circumstances. 


The Great War and the worst depression in all com 
mercial history could not be faced except with courage 
and extraordinary will to do and an illogical and superb 
confidence in the real nature of the veiled future. Suc 
cessive attacks of the law officers of State and Federal 
Governments were met with the cleanest record ever 
made before the public by any corporation and by the 
whole-hearted favor of the customers whose interests 
those officers were supposed to represent. Tractor com 
petition of a more serious nature than was ever known in 
the harvester wars of former days was turned by changed 
manufacturing methods and the reiterated proof of supe 
rior value. All in all, Harvester was demonstrating to 
the world that it had a constructive interest in the prob 
lems of the farmer, as well as the business acumen and 
the militant spirit necessary to fight its own battles. 


THE reaper was the first of the implements by which 
mechanized power was brought to the aid of agriculture. 
It appeared suddenly before an unexpectant world. 
Twenty years after its birth, it had become a proved 
mechanism, and in thirty years its purpose had been ac 
cepted everywhere and its usefulness was hailed by farm 
ers and by statesmen. Then, one by one, its progeny 
began to appear upon the scene: the self -rake reaper, the 
harvester, the wire binder, and the twine binder. Dur 
ing the same interval human ingenuity, thus focused on 
the unfolding solution of the demands of mechanized 
agriculture, had produced the steel plow and its many 
descendants along a collateral line of kinship. The reaper 
was not their father it was the first expression of the 
thought which originated them. It was an intellectually 
inspired reply to a want which men had long felt, but had 
not known how to satisfy a reply which, when it re 
duced theory to practice, gave other men the mechanistic 
clue to other problems. 

Up to the advent of the reaper, the peak load of the 
agricultural cycle was in the harvest. It was always 
easier, with the bounty of Nature and even with the 
crudest of tillage implements, to make a crop than to 
gather it. McCormick s invention, replacing the sickle, 
the scythe, and the cradle with a competent machine, 
shifted the incidence of time and labor to the turning of 
the soil. When the invention of the modern plow solved 
that problem, the peak load of farm labor rested on thresh 
ing. The early horse-power thresher then became as 


inadequate for its share of crop production as the primi 
tive plow had proved in the presence of the reaper. 
Quickly, therefore, inventive genius gave its attention to 
this final phase of crop production and evolved more and 
more efficient types of stationary steam-power threshers. 
Perhaps if this process of development were searchingly 
analyzed, it would be made clear that the solution of one 
mechanical farm problem inevitably makes necessary the 
solution of other related needs; and therein lies the reason 
for the steady progress that the farm implement industry 
has made since McCormick opened the door to mech 
anized agriculture. 

Within sixty years after the reaper s birth, thinkers 
began to ask themselves why machinery, already so 
adequate a substitute for the arms of men, could not be 
similarly applied to those tasks which were beyond the 
power of all muscular physique* They seized upon the 
principle of internal combustion, added it to the stock 
in trade of implement practice and produced the tractor. 
This was a vehicle, an element in the widening scheme 
of transportation, but a power plant mightier than the 
animal power which farmers had summoned to drag the 
machines that were the source of their own liberation. 
Thus, by the time of the reaper s eightieth birthday, its 
progeny, multiplied now by the succeeding generations 
of its fruitfulness, were growing in stature as well as in 
number. Machines were becoming more purposeful. 

A century ago, one man with a hoe and a scythe could 
bend his back and tend one farm acre, or, at a stretch, a 
two-acre patch of land. Now, with the help of those 
artifacts which we, masters of a material destiny, sum up 
in the term efficiency/ he can single-handed accomplish 
at least a hundred acres of production. But farm power 
is no longer a mere substitute for the farmer s beasts of 


burden. It has enjoyed its own transition and has become 
power farming. This latter stage of development became 
visible by the time of the reaper s ninetieth year. As 
soon as the tractor could be reduced in size and cost, it 
became useful to the many instead of the few. A further 
expression of man s wants arose out of the previous 
answers to his quest. Why not apply the power directly 
to the work and let it function positively in its own way, 
to do the work both of the animal and the man? Search 
precedes science; and the final application of mechanical 
power to farm needs appeared when power was made an 
integral, rather than an incidental, part of the farm opera- 
tion. Power farming, new in itself but still the latest child 
of the reaper, does just that. 

Perhaps Cyrus Hall McCormick knew in 1831 only 
that he had made farm work easier and had thus per 
mitted the production of more food. Three-quarters of 
the population of the Western world lived by agriculture 
in 1831, whereas less than one-quarter supply our present 
cry for bread. Undoubtedly in future years a still smaller 
relative number of producers will suffice. It seems rea 
sonable to guess that, if power continues to march with 
progress, we may learn to be even more worthy of what 
the past has done. Perhaps power will give us, even more 
than now, material ascendancy over those problems which 
our fathers feared but faced. 

Figures prepared by the United States Department of 
Agriculture show that in 1918 and 1919 there were about 
26,400,000 horses, mules, and other draft animals on 
American farms. These dates mark the high point of 
animal power as applied to agriculture. They also coincide 
with the war-time rush to tractor power which marked the 
initial decline of the horse. It is not suggested that before 
then animals had not served their purpose. They had 


drawn the reaper and its progeny across the farms of the 
East and over the prairies, but their maximum contribu 
tion could be rendered only during the comparatively 
brief periods when farmers were preparing for harvest 
and were harvesting. During the other many months a 
farmer naturally had to feed his beasts or allow them 
to graze on land that must otherwise be unproductive. 
Also, horses could not be speeded beyond a certain point ; 
they wilted under the summer heat of the Western wheat 
and corn climate; they tired just as man had tired be 
fore 183 1 and they were admittedly an expensive power 

The Department says that in 1924, when tractors were 
already beginning to be effective, America s farmers 
annually employed a total of sixteen billion horse-power 
hours at a cost of three billion dollars a year. Five-sixths 
of this amount was paid out to keep the animal power 
plant in operation. Farm labor, too, was staggering in 
its demands upon farm income. Sixty per cent of what 
agriculture spends on farm operation must go for power 
and for labor. If the tractor satisfies farm power needs, 
it is also obvious that human labor is needed in inverse 
ratio to the supply of mechanical power. Animal power 
endeavored to maintain pace with the demands of farm 
ing, but it could do so no longer after 1919. In 1931, with 
progress still marching on into the reaper s second century, 
the farms of our country are, on an average, using 3,500,- 
ooo horse-power more each year than they could or would 
employ before the infant appearance of the tractor. 
Without horse-drawn implements there would once have 
been an insufficiency of farm production. Without the 
tractor there could have been no increment to the farmer s 
ability to serve the world. 

I do not pretend that there do not remain in the forum 


of agricultural discussion men who dispute the claim of 
tractor farmers that it is cheaper to farm with a tractor 
than with horses. They declare that the price of horses 
and mules, as well as of feed to keep them, is low. But 
one thousand dollars invested in a tractor will provide 
more power for ordinary work and for the peak loads 
than an equivalent value of horseflesh ; the tractor eats 
only when it works; and the housing of a tractor (too 
frequently in the open air) costs less than a barn. -j It 
would be possible to amass statistics by the page to prove 
these statements. Suffice it to say that the Department 
of Agriculture estimates that a tractor drawbar horse 
power can be developed for half the cost of an animal 
horse-power. But argument is no longer necessary the 
modern farmer knows. In 1929 there were only 19,000,- 
ooo animals employed in agriculture as compared to 
26,400,000 in 1919. Then there were less than 150,000 
tractors in use, while to-day there are nearly a million. 

It seems probable that this generation is wisely allow 
ing the matter of the cost of production to determine the 
answer to the problem of farm power. During the last 
decade of the reaper century, farmers also discovered 
that a tractor would pull their implements and cultivate 
their land regardless of the season; that it would work 
faster than their teams and permit them to use heavier 
implements; and that it would not tire under the blaze 
of a prairie sun or would, if they so wished, work as faith 
fully through the night as through the day. But now this 
latest machine in the train of the reaper has in its turn 
affected the reaper s previous heirs. It has forged ahead, 
step for step, in the endless race of progress and has pro 
duced a new line of farm equipment that matches the 
tractor itself in cost reducing efficiency. The passing of 
the horses has been good for the farmer s pocketbook. 




To-day he can plow for $i .25 per acre instead of $6.50 ; he 
harvests and threshes grain for 20 cents less per bushel 
with the combine than with the most efficient twine 
binder and stationary thresher. These are the power- 
farming methods of the new age of agriculture. 

The device which marked the definite step from the 
mere drawbar and belt use of internal combustion in farm 
tasks to the present stage of power farming is called the 
power take-off/ This is a small attachment, first pio 
neered by the Harvester Company and now built into 
practically every tractor on the market, designed to ef 
fect direct transmission of power from the tractor to the 
implement. Nearly all farm machines, except the mold- 
board type of plow, the cultivator, and a few other till 
age implements, have moving parts which function as the 
implement moves along. As long as farmers were con 
tent to have the tractor do no more than replace the 
team and draw the machine, these moving parts were 
actuated by ground traction through the forward move 
ment of the machine. Mechanically, this is a roundabout 
method of power transmission which occasions power 
losses. With direct transmission through the power take 
off to the operating mechanism, the loss of power is 
minimized, and, since the main wheel does no more than 
carry the weight of the machine, the implement has to 
resist fewer strains and can be lighter, more compact, and 
less expensive. 

The second and latest step in the introduction of true 
power farming has been the development of the Farmall 
or all-purpose tractor. Both these epochal ideas were 
matured by the engineering staff of the International 
Harvester Company, where now resides the counterpart 
of that mental energy which gave the reaper to the 
world. The real credit for their full fruition belongs to 


collective thought rather than to individual genius. A 
business organism is as complex as life itself. Engineering 
specialists can improve a theory by bringing to bear on it 
particular knowledge of methods or materials. Factory 
men know how to achieve the desired result by more 
direct and therefore less expensive methods. Salesmen 
can refine or state more clearly the objective. Executives 
have learned to seek out for themselves the far corners of 
world experience and base their criticism on observation. 
The mechanical skill of farmers broadens as they use the 
tools industry makes for them. All collaborate to achieve 
the single end of cheaper agricultural production. 

When the present all-purpose tractor was first proposed 
fifteen years ago, it was intended to do no more than 
supply a power plant to the row-crop farmer whose corn 
and cotton problems refused to yield to the standard 
type of low-hung machine. If the man who had to till the 
soil of the corn or cotton belts could be supplied with a 
tractor high enough to ride over the top of his growing 
crops, and with wheels so spaced that they would travel 
between the rows, it would be easy to pull behind it a 
cultivator designed for horses. As the all-purpose tractor 
developed, it became apparent that any such analysis 
bore on but the small part of the problem. Thus, as the 
tractor took form through its experimental years, it was 
found that a multiple-row cultivator, designed to with 
stand the comparatively mild tractive effort of animals, 
was not stout enough to face the steady, purposeful pull 
of an engine. It was also discovered that better field 
work could be done if the cultivator gangs were placed 
ahead of the operator, where he could watch their per 
formance, than if they were dragged behind him. Lastly, 
it began to be apparent that the tractor designed orig 
inally for row-crop cultivation was suitable for, or adapt- 


able to, many other tasks indeed, to all the lighter 
work on the farm. 

An all-purpose tractor of any make others than 
Harvester s pioneer product appeared in 1929 and 1930 
must necessarily be high ; therefore, it has to be light 
in order not to be top-heavy. As a matter of fact, tractors 
have been growing lighter through the years, and the 
most modern models weigh not over 156 pounds per 
developed horse-power as compared to over 500 pounds 
for the mammoths of the days of the Winnipeg tests. 
This trend has been furthered both by refinement in de 
sign and by improved wheel-lug equipment which more 
effectively gears the tractor to the earth. A tractor has 
to drag heavy, resisting loads and any wheel slippage is 
absolute loss ; therefore, weight cannot be reduced beyond 
a certain point. A standard tractor must be heavy enough 
to do its work. An all-purpose tractor must be heavy 
enough in front to avoid tipping over and yet light enough 
to allow the navigability which row-crop cultivation 
demands. It must also possess a much shorter turning 
radius than is practicable for a standard tractor. 

It may be assumed that there will always be much 
room in the field of power farming for the standard type 
of tractor. The crawler type is best for such work as 
excavating and for certain agricultural conditions special 
enough to justify its additional expense. The all-purpose 
tractor will plow, pull harvesting and other implements, 
and do belt work within the limits of the lower power 
occasioned by the light weight of a machine designed 
for the cultivating of standing crops. The standard 
type of tractor, whose principal aim is simply to furnish 
power either by its own tractive effort or by the power 
take-off or by the belt, will continue to find an important 
place in performing the heaviest tasks of farming. The 


large harvester-thresher favored by the Argentine rancher 
demands the most rugged type of tractor, as does the 
system of plowing employed in Canada and the American 
Northwest. As a matter of fact, many farmers have found 
it to their advantage to use both an all-purpose and a 
standard tractor in their work. 

The harvester-thresher is the most spectacular of the 
instruments of power farming. An early machine of this 
type was introduced to serve the dry wheat districts of 
California and the hilly benches of the Pacific Northwest. 
It was a monster, made after the fashion of threshing 
machines, principally of wood and pulled by as many as 
thirty-six horses. Publications in the East were accus 
tomed to print picturesque photographs of the huge 
mechanism and its long train of straining horses laboring 
along a wheat-sheathed hillside rising up to a crown of 
pines. This, the urban editors thought, was expressive 
of the bigness of the West ; and uninstructed people used 
to wonder how small farms could compete with the mas 
ters of such a mechanical marvel. But the large combine, 
like the large tractor, was to pass into the discard before 
lighter, less expensive, more serviceable equipment. The 
empirical science of farm implement experimentation is 
not satisfied until it can discover how those things that 
are useful to the largest farmers can also be made to 
serve the many. 

The pioneer light harvester-thresher, a product of the 
International Harvester Company s growing policy of 
serving all farmers in all their equipment needs, was in 
troduced in 1914. Its purpose was to harvest grain in any 
district where the moisture content at harvest time was 
sufficiently low to permit threshing at the moment of 
cutting. Obviously any small machine can be cheaper 
than one of several times its size. By its use the farmers 


of the semi-arid prairie States were immediately enabled 
to accomplish the same savings in wheat production 
cost as the land barons of the Pacific Coast. But com 
bining was such a radically different method that for sev 
eral years they were loath to give over the time-honored 
methods. Also, as is invariably the case, the first machines 
could not have the benefit of years of study built into 
them. Finally, Harvester and its competitors had to com 
bat the arguments of the millers, who claimed that grain 
harvested with the combine was still too full of natural 
moisture; and of the adherents of stationary threshing, 
who claimed that the new device wasted grain. But every 
objection was groundless. A harvester-thresher does not 
waste grain. As it travels through the wheat, the bat 
tered straw is blown out at the rear and any grain not 
properly separated is ejected with it upon the ground, 
where a searcher can find it. A stationary thresher s 
unseparated grain is blown with the chaff upon the straw 
pile, where, however much of it there may be, it is con 
cealed in a growing monument of refuse. The facts of 
time and experience answered the objection that com 
bined wheat was moist wheat. Then, as the years passed, 
the technical skill of designers and builders improved; 
and by the time tractors had become widely used, the 
harvester-thresher was able to take its place beside the 
binder as a fully developed machine. As its use broad 
ened, the quantities sold increased the mass-production 
methods of manufacturing brought the cost down. By 
1927, a very considerable, if not the largest, part of the 
wheat grown in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, 
Colorado, California, the far Northwestern States, and 
in Argentina was harvested with combines. 

Before the day of the tractor a farmer gathered in his 
grain with binders, header-binders, or headers. Ever an 


efficient worker, he harvested by the best methods he 
knew. But by previous means he could do no more than 
gather his cut and bound wheat into shocks, whence it 
must be subsequently collected and hauled to the sta 
tionary threshing machine; or, when it was cut by a 
header, deliver it into a prepared stack. Always, until the 
advent of the combine, there was the separate operation 
of threshing to face. 

t The Department of Agriculture estimated in 1928 that, 
as compared with the binder, the harvester-thresher 
method of harvesting saved eighteen cents a bushel, in 
cluding interest and depreciation on the more expensive 
machinery involved, and twelve cents as compared with 
a header. These figures are important if you consider 
the production of three hundred acres of twenty-bushel 
wheat; and they are ultra-conservative. Most farmers 
claim a direct saving of twenty cents a bushel for the 
combine. Furthermore, losses from grain knocked out of 
the head by the older method of harvesting and threshing 
are reduced by more than half. The combine also devours 
as much acreage in a day as the fastest tractor binder 
and, in the same space of time, completes every harvest 
operation. At one sweep the grain is cut, threshed, and 
cleaned, all without the necessity of hiring extra labor. 

It is no more than a short fifteen years since I lived in 
southern Kansas and was reasonably familiar with condi 
tions attending the harvest season there and in Okla 
homa. Each morning as the end of June approached, we 
would read in the papers how the advancing horde of 
farm laborers was descending from the East upon our 
vicinity. Farm wives and daughters prepared huge 
tables and nerved themselves for hot hours of cooking for 
a swarm of hungry men ; and they warned one another to 
be prepared to stay safe indoors at night. Farm men 


!1 : / 



anxiously consulted their local bankers for temporary 
loans to pay this labor. When the foreign army arrived, 
riding the rods or preempting the roofs of an inbound 
freight, it might be prepared to work or it might not. 
There were groups of college boys off for a summer s 
spree, willing enough, but unskilled at handling countless 
bundles of heavy wheat into a shock, unused to breathing 
threshing dust for day on day. There were swarms of 
tramps attracted by the unsupervised nature of harvest 
work and the promise of pay plus country food. These 
the sheriff rounded up sooner or later, commandeered a 
passing freight, and, by dint of posse control, passed the 
pest along to another community. There were experi 
enced harvest hands who followed the season from south 
to north, and, because they knew their jobs, commanded 
the full measure of their wage. Threshing succeeded 
cutting, and the motley harvest army would be followed 
by the professional soldiery of the threshing-machine 
crews. They, too, are gone now, swept away with the rest 
of the labor problem. The combine and the farmer s own 
will to work are sufficient for a grain-grower s harvest. 

To-day, harvest means no more than longer days than 
usual for a farmer and his family. As the sun mounts in 
the white sky of a Western morning, the dew vanishes 
and his fields are soon dry enough for threshing. A twist 
of the starter crank and the tractor hums. Fifteen-year- 
old daughter, clad in overalls, with a wide-brimmed hat 
pulled down over her clipped locks and with her set little 
face masked with dust, rules the iron horse; her younger 
brother sits nonchalantly in the shade of the cab of a 
waiting motor truck; and father attends to the nice de 
tails of regulating the height of the cutter bar. Ever and 
anon he climbs to the roof of the clattering harvester- 
thresher to examine the sample* of the grain, and then, 


if it is not clean enough, he descends to adjust the wind* 
which blows the chaff and weed seeds out of the threshed 
wheat. Acre after acre the machine devours, thirty or 
forty before evening if the field is large enough ; and when 
night comes, it is ready to move to the next field and do 
its work over again. As yet the combine has not learned 
to take mother s place as a home-maker; but she no 
longer has to labor through the night as well, in order 
that an imported army of harvest hands may eat. The 
harvester-thresher and the tractor, mightiest of the tools 
of power farming, have done as much for her, it seems, as 
for any other. 

It should be remembered that the combine method of 
harvesting was developed for the dry-farming districts. 
If wheat contains more than fourteen per cent of moisture 
by weight, it cannot safely be binned. It will sweat/ and 
its grade, or quality, will be depreciated by the elevator 
man or the miller who will ultimately buy it. This 
moisture can be external, caused by rain or dew or the 
evaporation of a muddy field, or it can be internal, like 
the sap of a tree. Externally induced moisture seldom 
harms a crop and dries quickly. I have even seen Cana 
dian wheat combined in the spring after it has lain all 
winter under the snow. Where the sun burns, as it does 
from West Texas to Montana, the internal moisture is 
unimportant. In Kansas, hail rather than rain is the 
enemy to be feared. But east of the Mississippi River, 
the climate has until recently been thought too humid for 
the harvester-thresher. There, it has been said, grain 
must be placed in the shock to dry before it can be 
threshed. Again, though, implement experimentation is 
coming to the aid of striving, efficient, improving agri 

When wheat at harvest time contains more than the 


absolute maximum of moisture, it has been found that it 
will dry as well in a windrow as in a shock. The windrow- 
ing machine is a wide harvester equipped simply with a 
platform canvas and a reel. It deposits the cut grain on 
top of the stubble in a long windrow, where it lies safely 
for three days or three weeks, until it is sufficiently dry. 
Rain or other external moisture does not harm it, hail 
does not knock it out of the prone heads. Then along 
comes the harvester-thresher, a small model cut to suit 
the smaller size of Eastern farms or one huge enough to 
meet the larger demands of Northwestern agriculture. 
Now it is equipped, not with a cutter bar and a reel to do 
its own reaping, but with a rotating device mounted in 
front of the platform canvas. This device picks up the 
ribbon of grain from the stubble and deposits it on the 
canvas; and then combining proceeds as usual. 

This plan, called the windrow method of harvesting, is 
one of the few schemes known to the mechanical world 
where two operations are accomplished practically as 
cheaply as one. The sole added cost over combining is 
the fuel and overhead consumed in the simple, brief oper 
ation of windrowing, and against this there is an offset. 
Windrow harvesting effects a considerable saving of 
grain even as compared with the straight combining 
process. Indeed, many farmers in the dryer districts have 
accepted this practice to gain the benefit of the almost 
complete insurance it provides against hail or other in 
clemency of weather or insect depredations, and because 
of its advantage in handling weedy grain. In Canada and 
parts of the Northwest, where rains are frequent, it is 
the only possible method by which the wheat-grower can 
secure the lower production cost permitted by the har 
vester-thresher and at the same time avoid having his 
wheat graded down because of surplus moisture. 


The harvester-thresher is the reaper s latest descendant 
in the direct line. It is masterful because it is the domi 
nant factor in harvesting. It is the best thing our genera 
tion has been able to do for the grain farmer. Let us, 
however, not be deceived by its present supremacy into 
overvaluation of its service to all the generations of 
humanity. Surely, as knowledge advances, there will 
some day, somewhere, somehow, be something better 
because the machine age is never satisfied with itself. 
The combine produces results where even the tractor 
binder falls short; and the windrow-harvester seems to 
give promise that future combines will be able to do their 
work where the natural moisture which nurtures growing 
things now appears to command a halt. But perhaps we 
men of to-day, fanners and manufacturers alike, will 
scheme out a better way. We will if we can! 

Most assuredly we will if we regard the reaper s first ap 
pearance on the scene in its proper light. The harvester- 
thresher has cut the direct cost of harvesting to less than 
half, and it has eliminated the problem of outside labor 
but it cannot be said to be a greater step in advance than 
was the original reaper over harvesting by hand. Nor, in 
spite of its greater worth, can it be said to possess a 
greater value to society than the first crude machine 
which started the trend toward mechanistic agriculture 
that has ultimately developed the combine. How slothful 
we would be if, given all the knowledge and progress that 
has followed after the reaper, we could not have made a 
harvester-thresher! Even in planning it we have turned 
to 1831 for guidance. A hundred years have passed and 
we have yet to find a flaw in those old seven elements 
upon which the first reaper was based. 

The first harvester-thresher included every one of these 
elements in its ultra-modern structure. It had a reci- 


procating knife, guards in front of the blade, a reel, a 
platform, a main wheel, the principle of cutting to one 
side of the implement, and the outside divider. The 
harvester-thresher of to-day, new instrument of power 
farming that it is, actuates its moving parts, not by the 
main wheel drive from the ground, but by a power take 
off from the tractor or by a separate engine. That, how 
ever, is no new principle of mechanics; it merely calls 
to the aid of the reaper s latest heir a system of propulsion, 
the first rudiments of which were not even dreamed of 
until forty-five years after the reaper s birth. Harvester 
men are proud of the achievements of their colleagues 
who scheme out artifacts of such real service to agricul 
ture they can be prouder still of the invention which, 
a century ago, made modern agriculture possible. 

I have called the harvester-thresher the most spec 
tacular achievement of power farming. It is possibly less 
fundamentally significant than the many implements 
that, usually in the form of attachments, are now appear 
ing in the wake of the all-purpose tractor. It may be re 
membered that power farming is a later step in advance of 
tractor farming, in that it applies tractor power directly 
to the work and does not merely use the tractor as a 
better team. With the very recent advent of the all- 
purpose type of tractor, it was natural to plan implements 
which would directly suit the tractor. 

The first of these machines, as has been said, was a 
multiple-row cultivator. This began as a two-row device 
and has lately been extended to span four rows. Other 
work was studied and satisfactory types of horse-drawn 
machines were reconstructed to suit new conditions. 
Corn and cotton planters have been attached around the 
all-purpose tractor in the fashion of cultivators. Corn 
pickers are built upon its sides until the power unit is 


almost concealed within the farm implement to which 
it is applied. A new type of potato digger, which could 
not otherwise have existed, is operated by the power 
take-off. Certain plows are coupled closely to the tractor 
so that the plow beams become almost an integral part of 
it. Wheelless mowers with long cutter bars have been 
designed to fit it and to take advantage of its quick- 
turning ability. All the machines made to be pulled by 
any tractor can, within the limit of its power, be towed as 
successfully by the all-purpose model as by the standard. 
The style of farm equipment is rapidly becoming changed. 

Fifteen years ago, when the small tractor first ap 
peared, it may have been, thought that the new device 
was just a superior horse. Like the horse, it was hitched 
in front of the implement and set to work. But consider 
what happened when a binder, designed to operate at a 
speed of one-and-three-quarters miles per hour, was 
called upon to travel as much as three miles an hour. The 
bearings had more and faster work to do; they failed, 
as did the chain which actuated the binder s many 
sprockets, and had to be replaced with high-duty bear 
ings. Consider also the fact that when a slow-moving, 
horse-drawn plow struck a concealed rock, the sensitive 
animals stopped; but the tractor forged on, with the re 
sult that the plow beam bent. Tractors have compelled 
manufacturers to heat-treat beams in order to gain added 
strength without added weight; and, similarly, to heat- 
treat harrow disks to give them added life under the stress 
of severer work. 

The tractor has thus brought into being a higher type 
of farm implement, more nearly suited to its own modern 
ity. An implement designed to operate by tractor power 
must be stronger, and therefore more expensive, than 
one designed solely for horse draft; but it is more pro- 



ductive, does better work, and is cheaper in the end. It 
is a finer implement to match the quality of modern 
farming. Of itself, regarded merely as a substitute for 
animal traction, the tractor would have induced a re 
designing of farm equipment. Now the all-purpose 
tractor has come as well, and again the experimental 
work of adapting old machines or producing new types 
goes forward. 

The horse is by no means a bygone power plant, how 
ever much he may have vanished from the thousands of 
American horseless farms* He must continue to serve 
those farmers on the economic fringe who are just able to 
pull through and whose operations cannot afford to sus 
tain an investment in modern equipment. He will survive 
long in those backward countries, where, because of a 
low standard of living, labor is cheap. He may live long 
est in the crowded communities of the Orient, where 
animals as yet are possessions of the rich alone and 
where hand harvesting is still the order of the day. But 
the Orient is not all overpopulated; there are five horse 
less farms in Indo-China. In any country there are farm 
tasks that no horse is strong enough to do, and these 
demand the tractor. In any country which seeks to 
release the brains of its citizens from the deadening 
burden of toil, power farming reigns. 

The motor truck, too, has come to take its place as a 
proper instrument of power farming. Threshed wheat, 
for example, is customarily poured from the harvester- 
thresher s storage tank into a motor truck and wheeled 
away to the railside grain elevator. Urban needs re 
quire the transportation of heavy, concentrated burdens, 
whereas farms demand speed and instant service. There 
fore, the Harvester Company s truck stations in the rural 
districts concern themselves mainly with the distribution 


of the lighter models. The servicing of motor trucks has 
become well-nigh as important a function of the harvest 
season as the servicing of harvesting machinery. 

The purpose of all these power achievements of the 
modern age of agriculture is to make better farming pos 
sible. The average factory makes a better quality product 
because of modern equipment than with the hand 
methods formerly employed. The average fanner does 
his work more in harmony with the standards of to-day s 
demands for quality with machinery than without it. 
But, just as it is probable that the principal objective of 
mass production is to reduce the cost of manufactured 
articles, even so is it certain that lower farm production 
costs are the main benefit of power-farming equipment. 
Wheat farmers of the West are aided by cheap land, but 
it is the machinery of power farming that has allowed 
them to cut the cost of raising their crops. The all- 
purpose tractor methods of corn cultivation are still new, 
yet in Iowa and Nebraska farmers are claiming savings 
more than sufficient to pay for their power farming 
equipment in a single year. Cotton planters in the better 
districts, where fields are large enough to permit batteries 
of tractors and their attachments to operate, can bring 
their crop to the picking stage for considerably less than 
half the cost of their old methods. Whether legislation 
succeeds in solving the problem of farm prosperity or not, 
power farming has provided a sure way to reduce farm 
production costs. 

The tractor and its attached implements will un 
questionably permit larger farms. The story of hand 
labor was want the story of machinery is plenty. 
Within the reaper century farmers have advanced them 
selves into a realm of undreamed-of power. An engineer 
has computed that the United States does thirty-four 


times as much work by means of machinery as by hand ; 
whereas China, at the opposite end of the scale, performs 
four-fifths of its labor manually. America is efficient be 
cause of the faith it has reposed in mechanical instead of 
muscular effort. Our farmers are more efficient than the 
average of men. They demand the equipment that will 
allow them to extend the power of their arms. Before 
the reaper, one man could work, at the most, a two-acre 
patch of wheat, while with the instruments of power 
farming, individual productivity is multiplied a hundred 
fold. Farms have grown in size because of available 
horse-drawn machinery. Why should there not be, in 
the future, still larger farms, as large as the fanner s 
machine-backed physique and machine-directing brain 
can command? 

Power farming has brought many social advantages to 
agriculturists. It has given them a broader individualism. 
Its rapid pace has discovered new leisure for them within 
the hours of the year to do those things which could not 
be included in the dawn-to-dawn labor of the erstwhile 
farm day. They have gained knowledge how to acquire 
and use those conveniences and privileges, the radio and 
the State University, which were formerly beyond their 
reach. All these attributes have combined to widen the 
intellectual horizon of the farmer. Individualism, leisure, 
and knowledge are an immediate assistance toward a 
better life, and they also multiply their fruits. I do not 
say that the readjustment from ancient to modern ways 
is easy, or that power farming has been the sole cause of 
farm progress. Rather, fanners have wanted betterment 
and so have created a demand for the tools of modernism. 
But without them, without power farming, they would 
have asked in vain. 

It is the European habit to remain truer to traditional 


methods than in America, where our nervous idealism is 
ever searching for something new. Thus, farmers in the 
Western Hemisphere have been largely willing to adapt 
their land to machinery. European agriculture is more 
provincial. Adherence to local tradition has asked that 
machinery be adapted to favored local methods of plow 
ing, of cultivating, and of harvesting. Individual selec 
tion which is different from individualism is preva 
lent in Europe s every attitude toward industry and is a 
reason why mass production and its benefit of lower price 
have not flourished there. To a certain extent this is 
justified by the minute accuracy of the work that Europe 
is unwilling to entrust to machinery. Perhaps tractor 
attachments will solve those problems; or perhaps Con 
tinental peasants will see from afar the liberation 
America s machinery has wrought for her fanners and 
will demand that they too be freed. Perhaps, even, the 
European consumer will offer his producer a higher 
standard of living in return for a cheaper price. It is not 
so long since the invention of the spade and the scythe 
eliminated three-quarters of the labor bill of soil prepara 
tion and harvesting. In the last century the efficiency of 
farm production has been increased from thirty to a 
hundred times. There is room in the achievements of 
these rapid days of ours for hope for the farmers of all 
the world. 

Of course, there will be improvements in the instru 
ments of power farming. Oil or alcohol may reduce the 
tractor s fuel bill, more refined tractor attachments may 
succeed in applying power more directly or more usefully 
to farm work, scientific farming methods will play an 
increasingly important part. In the future, octogenarians 
will doubtless say, as the old guard says to-day, We 
worked a lot harder in those early days/ To be sure 


they used muscle where we are using mind ; but perhaps 
some future man will be able to demonstrate that 1931 
did not realize, as another century may do, how best to 
summon abstract forces to his aid. But we, I think, have 
done reasonably well. Consider the case of a friend of 
mine, whom I will call Mr. Highouse of the West: He 
settled in Madison County in 1864, a boy with the world 
before him waiting to be conquered. He turned the 
prairie sod with a team of oxen and harvested his first 
wheat with a cradle. Then he used a reaper; and then, 
one by one, the successively improved generations of 
the reaper s labor-saving children and grandchildren. 
Finally, the harvester- thresher appeared upon the scene. 
Highouse was old by then and his descendants harvested 
in his place. In 1865, he and his like had spent three days 
of man-labor to reap and thresh an acre of grain. In 
1929, he watched his young grandson cut and thresh 
thirty acres in a day. One lifetime spans the magnificent 
transition from cradle to combine. I wonder what farm 
ing will be like a hundred years from now? 


A MODERN corporation engaged in supplying an essential 
product can, if it be favored with a public demand, enjoy 
the privilege of success ; but by the same token it cannot 
escape responsibilities. These responsibilities are heavy 
when its position is that of a leader, for the public must 
be served. Such a modern sentiment has for all time 
been the watchword of the entire agricultural implement 
industry. Cyrus Hall McCormick felt it subconsciously 
as he was developing the many phases of his system of 
distribution ; his successors and the successors of his rivals 
patterned their methods after his; and the men of this 
generation follow practices which are nothing more than 
growth from ancient roots. I suppose that to-morrow 
will be a development from 1931, that it will improve, 
and that it will be true, as to-day is true, to the traditions 
of the past. 

It will be remembered that in the early days of the 
reaper, McCormick appointed general agents whose duty 
it was to travel over the country supervising the work of 
local agents who in turn appointed subagents to contact 
with the farmer. These last were country merchants, 
crossroad blacksmiths, and even, in some cases, rural 
postmasters. They were the forbears of the dealer of 
to-day; but in the time of the early reaper, it was the 
local agent and not the subagent who carried repair parts 
and such stocks of machines as his territory demanded. 
There were no company-owned branch houses, and a sur 
prisingly large part of each year s volume of machines 
was shipped from the factory in the weeks immediately 
preceding harvest. 


One of the greatest elements of service that the modern 
agricultural implement industry has been able to perfect 
for its customers has been the development of a far-flung 
system of branch houses. It has been related how the 
local agent of Civil War times gradually became a jobber, 
and how, when a manufacturer had sufficient capital 
himself to control distribution as well as production, 
territorial business was placed in the hands of a resident 
manager. The usual title given this man by the Mc- 
Cormick Harvesting Machine Company and its com 
petitors was that of general agent (because, though his 
field of operations was more limited, his duties coincided 
with those of the original general agents). The Inter 
national Harvester Company naturally fell heir to the 
nomenclature as well as the employees of the constituent 
companies. But with the growth of the business, due 
first to new lines and then to tractors, the head of a terri 
torial division became less an agent and more an execu 
tive in his own right; so in 1917 his title was changed to 
branch manager/ 

The typical personnel of a branch has followed the 
original lines, but naturally it is much larger now than in 
the old days. The field staff is traditionally built up of 
blockmen/ who do business with the several dealers in a 
predetermined subdivision of the branch territory, and of 
salesmen, or canvassers, who work with the dealer and 
lend him skilled selling assistance in his contact with the 
farmer. The dealers are more machinery-conscious now 
than in former years, and they find it to their advantage 
to do much of the work of setting up machines newly 
received from the factory or the branch warehouse, and 
of the servicing of minor complaints. The farmer is also 
a far cleverer mechanic than was formerly the case and 
has grown accustomed to do himself many of the serv- 


icing jobs that were once done for him. Therefore, the 
branch manager s force of field experts is smaller and 
more skilled than it used to be. 

These three ranks of field men, the blockmen, the 
salesmen, and the service men, constitute the infantry of 
the Harvester army. They were the ones who carried out 
the orders of their captains and fought the harvester war; 
they were the ones who staged the demonstrations which 
won the tractor war; they are the shock troops, brave and 
skilled and determined, who lead every advance toward 
wider sales or deeper service. I have been one of them, 
and from them I learned to make my theoretical, inher 
ited ideals practical, to realize how the great business 
entity must fail to function, however sound its heart, if its 
hands be not willing and able. Numberless tales of self- 
sacrifice and devotion might be linked to their personali 
ties. I choose but one for record here. 

One day, when I was a very new and self-important 
general agent in southern Kansas, a farmer called on me. 
Because he respected the Harvester Company and wished 
it well, he came to tell me how one of my salesmen was 
wasting Company time. * I was plowing when he came 
to my farm and tried to sell me a spreader. I told him I 
didn t want one, so he said he d help me plow. Well, he 
did, and the afternoon went on, so I invited him to stay 
and eat. After supper he wanted to talk spreader again 
to tell me what it would do to pep up my soil. So it 
got kind of late and I asked him to spend the night. Next 
morning he started in to talk spreader again, and when I 
shut him up, he said he d help me do my chores and then 
we d plow some more. So, just to get rid of him, I bought 
the damn spreader. Say, Mac, how soon can I get it? 
he sure got me all hopped up on how I can build up my 
field! But he sure wasted a lot of time on one little sale! 


Perhaps. Perhaps he also earned that farmer one or 
two bushels more of corn to the acre and made him the 
price of the machine in the year. Perhaps, also, he was 
the spiritual heir of D. R. Burt, who fought Manny in 
Iowa and l sold twenty machines/ Burt lived sixty years 
before my salesman, but unless I am much mistaken, the 
breed has not yet died out. The objective of the attack 
has changed that is all. Competitors still strive with 
each other, but not in the same cut-throat 7 way they 
fight for better agriculture. 

The old-time blockman had to concern himself with 
a relatively simple line of harvest tools. Now, however 
remarkable may be his knowledge of the multitude of 
machines in his catalogue, he can no longer be a specialist 
in all of them. Thus, special travelers have come into 
being, men recruited mainly from the ranks of the block- 
men, who travel over the territory of one or several 
branches to bring their specific knowledge of cream 
separators or engines or motor trucks or other lines to 
bear on local problems. These specialty men frequently 
operate under the control of specialty managers in the 
home office whose duty it is to supervise the distribution 
of some particular class or product rather than to follow 
the progress of the Company s entire line, as do the 
regular departmental managers. The ramifications of 
Harvester s full line are so many that there is room for 
specialization even at the top of its trained sales force. 

The most complete segregation between classes of 
product is in the case of motor trucks. Many excellent 
implement men make but inferior automotive salesmen 
and many highly successful truck mechanics are not 
temperamentally suited for direct dealings with farm 
psychology. Therefore, in certain instances there has 
been effected an almost complete separation of the motor 


truck from the implement staff. The motor-truck per 
sonnel is usually housed on the branch property, fre 
quently in a separate building; but if the warehouse itself 
is not well situated for motor-truck sales, it carries on in 
a service station placed in the center of truck activity 
in the city in question. In the metropolitan areas, as for 
example in New York, where there is no chance for 
agricultural implement sales, the motor-truck branch is 
entirely independent and self-contained. 

The branch manager has an assistant to aid him in the 
conduct of his affairs. Both of these men travel widely 
over the territory and supervise all sales problems. As 
in the case of every business anywhere in the world, the 
boss cannot hope to sit at home at his desk and regulate 
distribution by correspondence. He must know his ma 
chines and, what is far more important, know his cus 
tomers and to perform either of these intricate tasks 
adequately, he must travel nearly as much as the block- 
man. He gains an independent judgment of crop condi 
tions, is in touch with rural opinion, and himself helps 
carry to the dealer and to the country what message he 
can of the labor-saving, profit-producing feats of mecha 
nized agriculture. 

What men they were and are, these general agents of 
the old days and these branch managers of more recent 
times ! To select one from among those I know who are 
gone or are living in well-earned ease among the orange 
groves of Southern California would be an injustice. 
There are too many others whose exploits have passed 
my notice because the days of 1931 are too crowded 
with the business of the present to give due consideration 
to the foundations upon which our work is reared. The 
men of the old days poured their sweat upon the land to 
further the cause of reapers and harvesters and binders; 


and in so doing they showed us the way to combines and 
tractors. They stood beside my grandfather and my 
father. They worked with them to take a load off the 
backs and straining arms of farmers in order to let us 
show agriculture how to find leisure by means of thought 
fully planned work. 

I cannot find it in me to do less than pay due honor to 
the past. It is the foundation stone of our existence. 
There would have been no chance for the brilliant young 
executive of to-day to be manager over the sales destinies 
of a force of fifty men if the general agent of twenty years 
ago had not been master of the details of Harvester s few 
old lines. We who are the younger generation are false 
to their charge to us if we do not improve. We fall short 
if we merely grasp at their heritage. Branch managers 
are general agents, changed not in title only, but in fact. 
We ride on the wings of power farming where they first 
taught the fledgling how to fly. We are efficient because 
they first showed the farmer how to think in terms of 
machinery. We serve in a wider sense because they lifted 
for us a corner of the veil of the future. 

In his work to-day the branch manager has the ready 
assistance of a branch advertising man. Where Cyrus 
Hall McCormick and his contemporaries were accustomed 
to write their own advertising copy, rightly believing that 
they, the heads and frequently the originators of their 
businesses, knew more than other men about such few 
machines as they had to sell, advertising is now a spe 
cialized science. There is a large department at the home 
office to prepare copy for magazine and newspaper ad 
vertisements, catalogues, and the many mailing folders 
favored by the publicity system of the implement in 
dustry. The branch advertising man sells publicity in the 
same way that the blockman sells contracts. Advertising 


is nothing if it is not an aid to salesmanship ; and a system 
of distribution which fails to link the personal message 
of the printed page with the personal persuasion of the 
spoken word, falls short of its mark. 

Included in the staff of a branch house is, of course, an 
office manager, who in the days of the past used to be the 
cashier who kept the accounts. There is also a credit 
manager to keep in touch with the financial stability of 
potential customers before a sale is made. In certain dis 
tricts there is a collection manager who handles, generally 
for several adjacent branches, such time paper as may 
accompany the settlement of a contract. There is the 
service manager whose duty it is to supervise all forms 
of territorial service work. Finally, there is the repairs 
foreman, as important a factor and as representative 
of Harvester s ideals as any man on the branch manager s 
staff. He it is who presides over the long rows of tiered 
wooden bins steel in the most recently, constructed 
buildings and furnishes spare parts as readily for an 
1899 mower as for a 1931 harvester-thresher. 

I do not think that the Harvester Company distribut 
ing system which I am describing differs widely from that 
of its main competitors except in size. No company can 
hope to be really effective in the agricultural implement 
industry unless it is prepared to cover fully as much of 
the territory as it plans to serve. Many organizations are 
not nation-wide; and yet they can make their sales pres 
sure felt in the given district in which they choose to 
operate. Of course you must assume that any one who 
desires to do business with farmers should have in his 
hands a manufactured article that contains no surplus 
dollar of price-raising cost. If he wishes to do a repeat 
business, he must have first designed and then built 
quality into his product, for the farmer is a keen buyer, 


quick to criticize and willing to change if his conceptions 
of machine service are not met. Above all, he must realize 
that the machines he is selling are planned to do neces 
sary, unavoidable work and work is the real root of 

-The larger part of the system of Harvester branches 
lying across North America was originally developed by 
the McCormick and Deering Companies before 1902. In 
a few locations the Champion or the Osborne building 
was more desirable, and when P & O was acquired, it 
brought with it several fine warehouse properties. Of 
course the consolidation resulted in the disposal of certain 
branches; and when the inflated condition of the old 
harvesting-machine lines was appreciated, it was found 
that others could be consolidated without injury to the 
business or hardship to customers. The natural increase 
in volume through the years has required additional sales 
points where the trade in a district could be more intensely 
cultivated to advantage. Much of the recent increased 
business has developed in the West in particular in 
the dry-farming sections and new distributing centers 
have been provided wherever required. The skeleton of 
the distribution system is flexible and has been kept in 
constant balance with the status of the business. Its 
object has been to supply agricultural implements to 
farmers where and when they need them. 

The original type of branch warehouse has not proved 
suitable for the storage of the bulkier types of new power 
machinery. Formerly farm equipment could invariably 
be shipped from the factory to the country in disassem 
bled units. Such integral parts as wheels and poles could 
be packed together in a freight car and the main parts 
of the machine could be nested in crates. A six-foot grain 
binder, for example, reaches the dealer in thirteen sepa- 


rate shipping packages. All these parts could easily be 
stored in tiers in any available type of building. Thus an 
implement warehouse of the time-honored variety was 
most frequently a multiple-story building conveniently 
located with regard to railway switching, more or less 
without concern for any other than railway accessibility. 

The advent of trucks, tractors, harvester-threshers, 
corn pickers, and other large machines has furnished for 
farm use a type of implement complicated enough to re 
quire the most highly skilled assembly. The retail dealer 
or even the individual farmer can set up a binder or a 
mower or a plow, but the mechanical requirements of 
tractor or truck assembly can be better and more cheaply 
accomplished in a factory organized for repetitive opera 
tions. Therefore, the most modern types of power ma 
chinery are sent out to the country as complete (in the 
case of the tractor) or as nearly complete (in the case of 
the combine) machines. They are transportable on their 
own wheels and can be more readily stored on one level 
than on the floors of a multiple-story building. Crated 
implements can be packed away just as easily in such a 
structure as in the traditional type of warehouse. Thus 
the modern implement storage building has become a 
one-story type of structure. 

Another cogent reason for this has been the great in 
crease in the construction cost of buildings. A business 
dealing with the necessities of life cannot afford to burden 
its prices with a single unnecessary penny of direct cost 
or overhead expense. Thus, when a new warehouse has 
to be built, the type to be selected will obviously be an 
inexpensive sheet-iron or similar building built on reason 
ably cheap land rather than a comparatively costly mill- 
construction or concrete structure located in the crowded 
heart of a city s wholesale district. It is cheaper to put 
up such a building as well as more convenient. 


The present-day model of implement warehouse has 
also been materially affected by the wide spread of auto 
mobile and motor-truck transportation. A retail dealer, 
whose store was situated twenty or thirty miles from a 
branch house, used to receive his supply of implements 
by local railway freight. He would either have to antici 
pate most of his year s requirements to make up a mixed 
car at the branch warehouse, or pay the added freight for 
less-than-carload shipments. Nor could the railways pro 
vide expeditious transportation on their minor rural lines. 
The motor truck has corne forward to solve these prob 
lems, and an important number of machines are now 
delivered from the company branch to the retail dis 
tributor by highway instead of by rail. The Red Baby 
taught the dealer, not merely to carry implements for sale 
and service out to the farmer, but also to use road trans 
portation to connect himself more directly with his 
source of supply. 

The shipping platforms of a modern implement ware 
house must therefore face the dusty highway as well as 
the rails leading away to the factory. At harvest time the 
red truck will be there, and beside it will be a farmer s 
automobile or truck. He has come to town to secure 
some unusual repair part which the large branch stock 
will provide, or to visit the new show room to inspect 
there some new type of implement that he has seen adver 
tised, or which has been of service to a neighbor. When 
the farmer drove a buggy, he could not spare the time 
to trot twenty-five miles to town ; but to-day distance is 
a matter of less importance. Therefore there is a grow 
ing and more friendly contact, engendered largely by the 
branch repairs room and the sample floor, between the 
ultimate consumer and the Company s territorial ware 
house. Where the branch used to be no more than a 


depot close to an agricultural district for the temporary 
storage of goods in transit from factory to farm, with 
incidental offices for the sales force, it has now become 
more vital. Its show room is an attractive place where 
the entire locally used line may be displayed. Its for 
merly unvisited repairs department has been moved from 
the fourth floor to a space immediately behind the sample 
room, where its impressive stock of spare parts may 
serve as an assurance of instant service. The branch has 
become the center of a radiating farm equipment activity. 
All this has resulted in solidifying the contact between 
the individual farmer and the company which serves him. 
And yet, if the branch house has become the center of the 
territorial system, the newly developed distributing con 
tacts have strengthened, not the International Harvester 
Company alone, but the retail dealer as well. His busi 
ness has also developed and kept up with the times. He 
has changed from a small agent for machinery sold on 
commission into an independent merchant. Much has 
been written and said about the precarious state of the 
country implement dealer. Fifteen years ago one out of 
every four failed each year but that was when most 
farm equipment distributors were small and weak. Then, 
the old-line machinery in the agent s store belonged to 
the company for which he handled it and, unless he could 
prevail upon his customers to pay him a premium because 
of the special service he could render them, he could not 
hope to earn more from his efforts than a mere commis 
sion. Such a thing as a dealer who sold farm equipment 
exclusively was almost unknown. No company had a 
really full line; and the local agent had to bolster up his 
business with hardware, furniture, funeral direction, and . 
the like. I do not mean to say that in isolated com 
munities where stores are few or in districts where agri- 


culture is not a major industry, a dealer does not still 
have to resort to other merchandise to round out twelve 
months of selling effort and income. Nevertheless, I am 
satisfied that, wherever circumstances permit, an imple 
ment dealer best serves his own interests to say 
nothing of those of the farmer if he is able to concen 
trate his attention on the business of providing his com 
munity with farm operating equipment. 

Many an old-time implement dealer s store was housed 
in a dilapidated frame building decorated with a faded 
sign informing the street in front of him as to his where 
abouts. Dusty bins along one wall contained nails and 
screws, tin cups and hinges, or porcelain pans and alumi 
num kettles. A glass case exhibited a shotgun or two, 
some ammunition and cutlery. Toward the rear, a broken 
package of brooms sprawled over a partly assembled 
cream separator. His desk, marked principally by a 
legion of advertising calendars, was littered with papers, 
unmailed bills, and mislaid notices of cash discounts 
which prompt attention might have secured. Other racks 
held his disordered stock of implement repair parts. 
Repairs for the old harvesting lines which, like the parent 
machines, were sold on commission alone, were tossed 
in some dark corner, waiting. Too frequently the dealer 
himself waited for business to come to him or for the 
canvasser from the branch to arrive and, by force of 
superior persuasion, drag him out into the country. 
Implements were exhibited in disused barns or on adja 
cent vacant lots. 

Lest any one think this is too dreary a picture of the 
past, let me say that it is drawn from my own sales ex 
perience, not with the best dealers, it is true, but with 
the average. In 1915, though we still used to sit around 
the stove in winter and gossip about a thousand other 


things than business, the transition toward modern 
methods was already beginning to be apparent. We im 
plement men were ourselves learning what a vital sales 
asset neatly organized repair bins could be; and the home 
office was beginning to criticize the large repair inven 
tories which showed on our books, and which were useless 
because so many forgotten or obsolete parts reposed in 
the dark corners of the dealer s shed. 

Automobile salesmen were clamoring for glass-win 
dowed show rooms to shelter and exhibit their shin 
ing cars. The merchants of a village were learning the 
commercial value of an ordered street. Attractive adver 
tising literature was making it seem desirable to display 
machines attractively. Implement dealers associations 
were preaching the keeping of accurate accounts and a 
more accurate knowledge of the cost of retail distribution; 
and they were urging manufacturers to allot more terri 
tory to an agent and so give him an adequate field in 
which to operate. Our developing line of machines was 
every year causing us to feel a growing pride which we 
were passing on to the dealer. Farmers were asking more 
questions and, as they became better farmers under the 
touch of the widening influence of the agricultural col 
leges, were demanding more mechanical instruction. 

The twentieth-century flowering of American industry 
has not come suddenly. It has been a gradual and there 
fore a sure growth. The retail agricultural implement 
dealer has been a vital part of it. He came into existence 
first as a pioneer who, armed with vigorous enthusiasm 
instead of cash capital, followed the first farmers into the 
prairies of the young West. There, because he was the 
only merchant for miles around, he sought to purvey to 
all their needs. As more agricultural machinery was pro 
duced, he turned certain of his activities over to the 


general merchant and to the country grocer. Then came 
the harvester war of the Eighteen-Nineties; and the too- 
intense competition of that day caused his kind to multi 
ply until, just as there were too many grain binders, there 
were also too many harvesting-machinery dealers. To 
supply the several companies demands for distributing 
centers, the curbstone dealer, this time no pioneer, re 
appeared in the picture. After the formation of the Inter 
national Harvester Company, when the saturation point 
of the old harvesting-machine lines had been reached, the 
declining farm demand brought production under control. 
Then, because there were still too many dealers, their 
vitality was sapped and they sagged back into desuetude. 
Their proper position has lately been reconstituted, partly 
by the advance of modern methods in the implement 
industry itself, partly by the onward surge of modern 

Of these two causes, the latter was undoubtedly the 
more important. The things one industry does are but 
reflections of the times; and yet the customs of our times 
are nothing more than the product of our thoughts. So 
it is possible that the developing policies of the Inter 
national Harvester Company, touching so intimately 
such a large portion of the people, may well have helped 
along the modernization of agricultural life. It is certain 
that they did so in the case of the Nation s implement 
dealers. At least they helped to clothe the retailer with 
the first garments of his present independence. 

As has been said, the early Harvester sales contracts 
were all of the commission variety. That is to say, the 
Company retained the ownership of the machines until 
the consummation of the retail sale and, though no retail 
price was named in the contract, retained a nominal con 
trol of the implement through the actual possession of the 


farmer s note given in settlement of the transaction. As 
the new lines were added one by one, the dealer gained 
a need of property independence due to the fact that 
manure spreaders, cream separators, tillage tools, and the 
like were made the subject of outright sale. That this 
could be accomplished was doubtless partly a reflection 
of the agricultural prosperity that accompanied the ad 
vancing years of the twentieth century. Still, the prac 
tice also marked the transition of the dealer from a mere 
agent of the manufacturer into a merchant doing business 
on his own account. 

In 1908 nine- tenths of the Company s contracts were 
of the commission variety. As the relative importance of 
the old harvesting-machine lines declined, the business 
became more and more centered on the new-line, sales- 
contract plan; and in 1917 the commission form of con 
tract was entirely abandoned. The reaction among the 
great body of dealers was immediate. At a stroke they 
achieved complete control of their own affairs and became 
individuals instead of agents. It is possible that no man 
can attain mental ascendancy without financial independ 
ence. Dealers now do a large and a better business. How 
ever much the growth of the tractor, and in certain cases 
the motor truck, may have aided, I am sure that the in 
tellectual stimulus provided by financial independence or 
the real hope of it has been the major reason. Dealers 
have become thinking individuals, business men in their 
own right. 

Consider the fervor with which the International 
Harvester Company s dealers took hold of the Red 
Baby campaign. Like the rest of the population of the 
country, the farmers were engaged in a buyers strike and 
the mere fact of lowered prices failed to attract them. 
But the better dealers, equipped now with crimson 


motor trucks, loaded machines into them and toured 
their districts searching more intensively than ever before 
for sales outlets. They carried their cream separators 
and cultivators and feed grinders to the country, set 
up and ready to operate. They themselves worked the 
implements on a farmer s premises, and they proved to 
him that, depression or no, he needed this equipment 
in order to continue his service of supplying food to the 

The Harvester Company s existence depends upon its 
ability to serve the farmer. The dealer distributes this 
service, acts as a channel of contact between the supply 
and the demand. The farmer himself holds a place in 
civilization proportionate to his ability to serve. These 
axioms are nothing but a picture of the interlocking re 
quirements of modern life and the economic dependence 
of individuals and nations upon the service of a 

The typical implement dealer of to-day is housed in a 
brick building which yields nothing in attractiveness to 
the automobile shop front. The Harvester branch office 
itself has become, not a hidden-away structure with 
narrow warehouse windows, but a place where the Com 
pany s products may be seen and, because it is willing to 
express its pride in them, appreciated. The dealer has 
followed suit. His wide windows protect and reveal the 
tractors or the cream separator or the corn sheller or 
the binder twine which are the seasonal expression of his 
interest in the cause of agricultural equipment. His repair 
parts, which are his property and his stock in trade, are 
neatly housed in ordered bins where their presence may 
act as a visible proof of his ability to meet the exigencies 
of wear-and-tear and work. His desk itself is organized, 
and every possible discount is in his bank. He is a busi- 


ness man. Therefore, like the Harvester branch manager, 
he is to be most frequently found, not in his place of 
business, but in the country, drumming up sales, sens 
ing the needs of farmers, promulgating the message of 
mechanized agriculture. 

Any such sales system as I have described, built upon 
the frame of so many branch houses throughout the 
country and manned with a personnel whose traditions 
are those of service, whose practice in life is that of a 
fair fight, and whose object is success through progress, 
must necessarily depend much upon the strength of in 
dividualism. The dealer, dependent though he may be 
for his well-being upon the strength of the parent com 
pany, cannot profitably order machinery he cannot sell. 
The farmer, greatest of all individualists in the world, 
cannot buy equipment unless through its use he can 
make a profit. With all the best will possible, neither 
branch manager nor dealer nor farmer is able to forecast 
absolutely the moods of fickle Nature. Bad weather may 
ruin the promise of adequate sunshine or rain; or a 
clement harvest season may redeem incipient disaster. 
Individualism itself is an uncertain science; and when to 
it are added the uncertainties of climate, prediction of 
the volume of business to be expected becomes too much 
a matter of luck. 

Hence the Harvester Company requires these many 
storage depots spread abroad across the land. Behind 
them are the huge warehouses of the factories; and in 
between are six great so-called transfer warehouses where 
machines are pooled to await the unexpected demand for 
last-minute shipments that seldom fails to eventuate 
somewhere. The Company maintains a department to 
keep track of machines in storage, to keep account of 
repairs, and to anticipate the manufacturing demands 



as far as may be. But the successful functioning of the 
system depends upon an understanding of farm condi 
tions. If a dealer s motor truck is driven up to the branch 
house the day before a farmer wants a new grain binder 
or a tractor to save his crop, it must be filled. The 
Harvester Company must remain true to its ideals of 
service and must help that farmer perform his service to 
the world. 

The system of distribution is largely the same in 
Canada as in the United States, but with due regard to 
the comparative youth of Canadian agriculture. The 
first branch house was opened by McCormick in Winni 
peg in 1887. Shortly after the amalgamation of 1902, the 
new lands of the West began to attract settlers, fanning 
began to penetrate another wilderness, and Harvester 
stood ready again to carry instant aid to the distant com 
munity of pioneer farmers. Because of the efforts of men 
who built their sod homes on the prairies and in the 
timbered fringes of the North, machinery men leaped to 
follow the advance guard of Northwestern agriculture. 
They rode the biweekly train to Edmonton, just as they 
had once gone out on the Union Pacific to the West and 
as they are now carrying implements by the waterway to 
Peace River. The Canadian Northwest prospered until 
the boom began. Then, as happens in every boom, specu 
lators grew rich and soon crashed. Farmers were affected 
and bought supplies of all kinds for which they had no 
need mammoth tractors, for example, whose utility 
coyld be measured only in terms of the broad horizon. 

The collapse of the boom could not affect the basic 
wealth of Canada. Ontario had to a certain extent 
equipped itself with the accouterments of industry, but 
the foundation of Canadian prosperity is agriculture. 
In its train have marched Harvester s branch houses, its 


blockmen, its army of dealers, and its open hand of 
service to the farmers of the North. 

Across the waters, too, the Harvester Company has 
followed the trail of agriculture. The McCormick Com 
pany, first in Odessa, established its own branches wher 
ever possible. The Deerings, strong in production but 
not such keen salesmen, tried to meet their rivals with 
an army of jobbers. Thus, precedents and preferences 
were established which have required the Company 
to maintain the separate identities of McCormick and 
Deering machines in Europe (where the trade is now 
partly supplied by the European factories) and in South 
America. But the jobbers bought for cash no more than 
they could resell in the same way. Therefore, the weak 
type of jobber who existed before 1902 has given way to 
the foreign branch. Yet much of the International s for 
eign business is with certain jobbers, strong firms which 
possess an unequaled ability to serve agriculture in their 
districts. They have learned Harvester methods from 
Harvester men. 

It is a tribute to Harvester Spirit that so many non- 
Americans all over the world, the personnel of the far- 
flung system of distribution, have become so finely im 
bued with the ideal of the American agricultural imple 
ment industry. It has gripped them in the distant pas 
tures of Europe, where, in a dozen different languages, 
they are spreading the gospel of better agriculture. South 
America knows it, and South Africa Egypt, too, and 
the dry hills of North Africa. Cold Manchuria and the 
tropical Philippines are experiencing the benefits of Har 
vester service. Its message is old in Australia and New 
Zealand and new in the islands and the tropical lands 
along the antipodean equator. India and China, in spite 
of their millions, are turning to farm power to accomplish 


those farm tasks for which the millions are too weak. 
Everywhere under the sun where agriculture exists, there 
is also a nucleus of Harvester service everywhere ex 
cept in Russia. Even there Harvester machinery is busy ; 
but the living presence, the spirit of Harvester men, 
exists only as an echo of the past. 

The routine of my job has led me frequently into the 
far corners of the world. It is one thing to manufacture 
the tools of agriculture; but if you do not yourself know 
how they are performing, you will lose touch. I have seen 
seventy-five-bushel wheat on a New Zealand farm and 
the machine-tearing roughness of the mallee district in 
Australia; tractors laboring in a Filipino jungle or march 
ing over the endless rice terraces of Indo-China and 
Siam; motor trucks starting for the horizon of Manchuria 
or portering the burdens of New Japan. I have heard 
how fifty harvester-threshers in a line collect the yield 
of the Argentine pampas, how plows are redeeming the 
waste prairies of South Africa, and how power machinery 
is reviving the agriculture of Russia. The still-used reaper 
clatters through the small fields of Europe and Harvester 
implements perform the hardest labor of redeemed 

In all these places I can feel at home. I can think of 
Alex Legge s story of a famous attorney called in to give 
counsel in a time of trouble. * I have studied many cor 
porations/ the lawyer said, but there is something in the 
Harvester Company deeper than in them all. You differ, 
you fight like cats and dogs for your opinions but if 
you are attacked, you fight for each other. You are the 
best team I have ever seen. Why? 5 

Legge told him that this was due to the traditions of the 
inventor of the reaper and to the character of his son. 
He neglected to add that he himself had given his all 


to help my father instill Harvester Spirit in the Inter 
national army. Together they brought about a square 
deal for all employees, a squar^ deal for all customers. 
Perhaps, after all, loyalty to such an ideal is the Com 
pany s greatest single sales asset throughout the world. 


THE production system of the International Harvester 
Company is not very different from that of other large, 
successful organizations. In origin it springs from the 
same circumstances that have made America the leading 
industrial nation in the world; and in development its 
growth has kept pace with the unfolding of our national 
commercial destiny. Industry has been America s leading 
contribution to modern civilization. We have produced 
great scholars, but none, it will be agreed, better than 
others in other parts of the world. We have produced 
great artists, but none to excel the sculptors, the painters, 
the musicians, and the architects of other climes. Our 
thinkers are noteworthy, but their abstractions can 
hardly rival those of the Orient. We are the most sizable 
free nation on the globe, but we did not invent democ 
racy. We did, however, organize it more widely than any 
other people because we approached it with the same 
mental vigor which has been able so broadly to organize 
our industry. We have offered our citizens the inspiring 
hope of politics for all, of education for all and now, 
through our industrial system, we are exploring and 
claiming the first fruits of prosperity for all 

Our industrial development is the basis for our one 
daim to recognition in the eyes of the world. We have 
organized machinery and man-power, not merely as in 
struments of efficiency, but rather as the method of pro 
viding us with an ever-sufficient supply to meet our 
ever-increasing wants. The Nation has grown rich and 
materially powerful out of industry. Perhaps we feel that 
because we possess the things which other men cannot 


gain with their unaided physical strength, we are not as 
other men. We have a wage system that is admittedly 
not yet perfect, but that gives workers the opportunity to 
gain for themselves the best fruits of capitalism. We have 
organized opportunity itself until it has been reduced to a 
practical rule and is available for all men. 

Possibly we who have so many advantages at our beck 
and call do not sufficiently recognize that we have our 
ancestors to thank for our present material prosperity. 
They gave us our reapers, our railways, our electricity, 
and the rudiments of our every instrument of production. 
Of course we, with more experience and more sophistica 
tion than the pioneers could possibly possess, have im 
proved upon the equipment they devised to satisfy their 
lives. It is certainly as true of modern mechanics as of 
modern science that if an individual had stopped learning 
even in 1900 he would be hopelessly out-of-date to-day. 
What of it? Our ancestors never ceased improving their 
own work, and it is not too much to suppose that the 
spirit of their genius is asking us to do likewise. They be 
queathed to us the crude tools of their devising; and, 
what is of far greater importance, they passed on to us the 
inspiration of their achievement. 

America is free politically and socially and intellectu 
ally, so free that we are never afraid to scrutinize our. own 
deeds with a criticism that compels us to go on and do 
something better. American industry has developed out 
of this attitude. Machinery, itself a product of the free 
genius of liberated thought, rescued our national life 
from the incubus of limitation and lifted industry to an 
intellectual par with scholarship. It created wealth and a 
steady supply of those rare comforts which we to-day 
regard as essential. It created earning power which made 
the acquisition of luxuries possible. Of course machinery 


did not do this in an instant, since, like the inventive 
thought out of which it sprang, it was itself a progressive 
growth. So it has been with industry, at once the child 
and the parent of machinery- Industry is free-thinking, 
aggressive, self-expressive, and self-assertive; it is experi 
ment-minded, in that it is ever willing to attempt the 
seemingly impossible; it is idealistic, in that it has been 
able to realize the dreams of other peoples; and, since 
it is so free from restricting limitations, it is represent 
ative of, and is the best product of, the free stream of 
American life. 

It has been suggested elsewhere in this book that Cyrus 
Hall McCormick s influence was a vital force in the up 
building of early American industry. We know that he 
was himself a pioneer in the origination of plans for dis 
tribution, credit to customers, advertising, and the like ; 
and we may infer that the manufacturing methods 
employed in his factory were radically original and 
progressive. No adequate history of American industry 
had yet been written, and that part of it which deals with 
manufacturing is still sealed in the personal experience 
of the generation of men just passed or is the stock in 
trade of a younger generation, which even now is carving 
new experiences on the rocky cliffs of time. Therefore, as 
a prelude to a discussion of the production methods of the 
International Harvester Company, I shall take the lib 
erty of stating what seem to me to be the fundamental 
principles of production s modern state: 

Machinery is important only when interpreted in 
the light of its social importance to humanity. Thus, 
the reaper rendered man a double service by light 
ening his labor and increasing his supply of food. 

Machinery is desirable only when it accomplishes 


such tasks by producing more or better or cheaper 
articles than man, without its aid, can provide. 
Thus, transportation has made all the world neigh 
bors and power has made man a king. 

Machinery must fail if it be regarded as a sub 
stitute for brains. Its proper function is to serve 
man s individuality, not to master it. At the heart 
of industry lies the human equation. 

There is no particular originality in this statement of 
the fundamental principles of machine production. They 
are modern and differ from the conception of the past in 
that, in harmony with the basic theories of American 
industry, they make machinery the servant of brains. 
They may be learned from factory managers and from 
factory workmen. The Harvester Company system, 
which may seem to a layman to be but designed to meet 
the necessity of the moment, is based on them. So also 
are they typical, perhaps not of all factories in the United 
States, but of the better ones. For all time, as long as 
men are men, there will be some who lead, some who 
follow. Because of the latter there will be conservatism, 
and because of the leaders there will be progress. 

Eighty years ago the old McCormick shop by the 
Chicago River was an outstanding leader in the develop 
ment of American manufacture. The inventor of the 
reaper did not himself plan this, but unquestionably he 
inspired it. Visitors came from afar to study manufactur 
ing efficiency as exemplified by the processes in vogue in 
McCormick and Deering Works. In the middle period of 
Harvester history, .every energy of his successors had to 
be given to selling. They fought successfully to hold their 
place, they expanded their business far beyond the realm 
he had bequeathed to them; and so it happened that 


their interest centered on the outward, dramatic elements 
of service to fanners rather than on stay-at-home matters 
of production. 

It is not my present purpose to tell what the many 
factories of the International Harvester Company do. 
There are thirty-one of them and all are engaged in 
making the machines which are the latest generation of 
the reaper s progeny. Rather, I wish to suggest how and 
why they do their work, and also to relate how a change 
from an ancient to a modern scheme of production was 
brought about. Harvester s production is now as much in 
line as is its distribution with the aim of service to the 
farmer. All phases of the system are harmonized to bring 
about this one desired result, including the functions of 
designing, purchasing, manufacturing, and the other col 
lateral activities which lend their strength to production. 

It has already been suggested that the Harvester Com 
pany s rebirth into the realm of manufacturing efficiency 
was due partly to the cry for cost-reduction following 
the business depression of 1921 and partly to the tractor 
war which started in 1922. If I feel unable to assess 
the relative importance of these two causes, it is prob 
ably due to the fact that in those years the demand for 
lower production costs was so keen and so continually 
insistent that management had too little time for self- 
analysis. Suffice it to say that the post-war generation 
of Harvester factory men taught themselves a new effi 

Measured in terms of present knowledge which is an 
admittedly unfair test there was no such thing before 
1915 as a really efficient manufacturing enterprise in the 
entire country. It is true that a few industries, such as 
the Chicago packing-houses, had accomplished marvels 
in the elimination of waste effort through the introduc- 


tion of successively synchronized operations. But, be 
cause of comparatively low wages throughout the Na 
tion, there was not the same urge as in recent years to 
reduce labor cost by the elimination of labor waste. 
There can be no proper control over the cost of produc 
tion without the most careful scrutiny of the labor bill. 
On the average, three-fourths of the cost of manufactured 
articles represents labor devoted to it or to its constituent 
materials. Even an electric generating station at the 
mouth of a coal mine has to contemplate labor spent 
in producing the metals for its transmission lines and in 
erecting them before it can compute the labor content of 
its product when in the hands of the consumer. In the 
case of agricultural implements, where the most widely 
used materials are pig iron, steel, and lumber, one must 
consider the labor cost of these materials at the mines and 
in the forests ; the labor cost of transporting them to the 
factory, not forgetting a share of the labor cost of building 
the freight car which carried them; the labor cost of turn 
ing raw materials into a finished product; the labor cost of 
distribution; and, since this is also the hardest kind of 
labor, the human energy spent in organizing the ore from 
the ground into the working tractor in the farmer s field. 
Men did not realize these things as clearly as they do 
now until the war-time demand for the production of 
these supplies of all kinds, which Europe could no longer 
make for itself, created a scarcity of labor. More men 
were sought for the factories of the land than were avail 
able and, though women soon came forth to stand at the 
bench beside their brothers and husbands, the shortage 
resulted in a rapidly rising scale of wages. Early in 1917 
the rising cost of labor began to be a matter of primary 
concern. The automobile industry was still young at that 
time. It had few precedents to stand as a bar to experi- 


mentation and less of an investment in plant and equip 
ment, so it was for the moment more easily able to as 
similate new doctrines than were the historic companies. 
It made the startling discovery that there was an inher 
ent difference between the price of labor and labor cost. 
This was really no discovery at all, except to the adven 
turous young men of the automobile industry. Reaper 
builders had known it of old, and so had makers of steel 
and the designers of slaughter-houses. But the older gen 
eration had either forgotten what it had once discovered 
for itself or had spent so much money developing its own 
processes that it was content to rest on its laurels. 

The automobile men found out that one could at the 
same time reduce the labor content of a manufactured 
article and leave the labor rate untouched. This they 
were able to do by the provision of special manufacturing 
equipment so designed that a machine tool would per 
form at once two or more operations on a piece. They 
adopted exactly the same theory that, for example, had 
underlain the development of mower-frame boring ma 
chines, and arranged to machine the different faces of a 
crankcase at one pass through a milling machine. They 
devised multiple drills and prepared types of speed 
wrenches to enable a nut to be screwed more quickly on a 
bolt. They sent men all over the world to bring back any 
possible word of fast-working tools in other factories. 
Most important of all, they organized crews of specialists 
whose sole task was to study their own methods with a 
view of simplification and improvement. 

Some one of them discovered that, a few years before, 
a mechanical engineer by the name of Frederick W. Tay 
lor who, more than any other man, is the father of 
modern scientific manufacturing had written a book to 
prove that, when the successive operations of any produc- 


tion program were planned in advance by the factory 
management rather than left to the discretion of an indi 
vidual foreman, time could be saved. Taylor showed, for 
example, that without additional strain a workman could 
lift more weight if he were instructed how best to bend 
over and how to use his muscles. Out of this simple illus 
tration has arisen the vast store of scientific time and 
motion study which is now applied in every efficient fac 
tory. Out of it, also, has come the practice of bringing the 
work to the man rather than the man to the work; and 
that most spectacular, but by no means the most crucial, 
accomplishment of factory efficiency, the conveying of 
materials by mechanism rather than by hand. The now- 
familiar assembly chains of automotive and other factor 
ies are a development of the same theory. It is this or 
dered succession of machining operations, properly called 
processed* manufacturing, but popularly known as 
progressive machining/ which, introduced after pro 
gressive assembly/ has become the foundation of the 
most modern methods of mass production. 

During the early years when modern efficiency was 
being introduced into manufacturing, it is possible that 
the automobile world as a whole was no more than search 
ing out the road to its present advanced state in an effort 
to counteract the rising cost of labor, but the fact that 
it was seeking was something. Between 1917 and 1922 it 
made giant strides of advance. Such Harvester men as 
were engaged in the production of tractors and motor 
trucks were in closer touch with the new methods than 
were the implement builders. They were constructing an 
automotive product and were already seeking to adopt 
automotive methods. The motor-car factories were mak 
ing no secret of their success in reducing labor cost 
through labor elimination. Secretary of Commerce Her- 


bert Hoover was urging American industry to save for 
itself and for the public the terrific cost of wasteful meth 
ods. The severe lessons of the extravagant post-war 
years and of the 1921 depression, which forced business 
men to save or fall, were fresh in the minds of all. The 
public had long been intrigued by Henry Ford s succes 
sive announcements of prices lowered in proportion to 
rising volume. The time was ripe for the Harvester Com 
pany to resume its ancient supremacy in the methods of 
early mass production. 

The two tractor plants, Milwaukee Works and Tractor 
Works, were even then the most mechanically efficient of 
the Company s factories. The production cost of the old 
twin-cylinder tractor, the Titan 10-20, had long been 
surprisingly low; and when the new McCormick-Deering 
15-30 was introduced in 1922, every known labor-saving 
device was provided for its production. When the 10-20, 
a smaller companion, was brought into being at Tractor 
Works a few months later, even greater strides in effi 
cient manufacture were made. Most of the departments 
there were on a single floor level, so the possibilities for 
progressive methods were greater than at Milwaukee, 
which was a reconstructed implement factory of the older 
multiple-story type. It is perhaps a noteworthy tribute 
to the plans then put into effect that the sale price of 
these two tractors works out at less than nineteen cents 
per pound of weight as compared to twenty-two cents in 
the case of the cheapest automobiles in existence. 

I do not wish to convey the impression that nothing 
except the necessities of the depression and the tractor 
war could ever have driven the Harvester Company into 
improved manufacturing efficiency. As early as 1919, the 
men of its automotive factories gave over their formerly 
self-contained habits and traveled ceaselessly through 


other plants to learn what the rest of the manufacturing 
world was doing. They were by no means oblivious to the 
developing progress of the automobile industry, but did 
not have such large production schedules with which to 
deal. Harvester engineers, too, were experiencing the 
benefits of contact with automotive standards, as witness 
the outstandingly original design of the two new tractors. 
It is true, however, that the Company s manufacturing 
staff arrived more quickly at the desired goal because 
of the pressure of necessity. The same cause was also 
instructive to the higher management. 

Industry is a living, progressing thing. In the days of 
the construction of McCormick Works and of the first 
automobile factories too, for that matter it did not 
occur to industrial architects not to put up multiple-story 
buildings. It began at length to be apparent that a single- 
story building, with its floor space spread out on one 
level, would permit a simpler, and therefore more effi 
cient, development of operations. Thus, Harvester s 
new motor-truck plant at Fort Wayne, designed in 1920, 
is principally one-story; but the production arrangements 
planned at that time have since been radically improved 
as the science of production planning has advanced. 

The same modern manufacturing methods which were 
worked out in the Company s automotive factories be 
tween 1919 and 1923 have in recent years been applied 
as far as practicable to the older agricultural implement 
works. The implement factories have all been completely 
reconditioned in the last five years. When progressive 
operations were introduced into McCormick Works, for 
example, all the departments were rearranged, every 
piece of machinery in the plant was relocated, and in the 
end the same manufacturing capacity was secured from 
half the former floor area. Thus, without additional 


buildings, the plant was able to take care of its share of 
the greatly enlarged requirements for farm equipment 
occasioned by the enlarged demands of modern times. A 
member of the old staff at Springfield or Canton would 
hardly recognize his former work home in the close- 
pressed maze of machine tools and conveying equipment 
which the new arrangement permits the ancient walls to 
house. At Hamilton, two separate factories have been 
consolidated into one, and a complete twine mill, re 
moved from Deering, has been installed in a former plow 
works. Deering itself, in its product at least, has been 
changed beyond recognition and to-day houses that most 
modern of all farm implements, the harvester-thresher. 

Thus the many Harvester Company factories have 
first caught up with, and then kept abreast of, modern 
times. It is not claimed that an old, reconditioned 
multiple-story plant can be made as efficient as a new, 
scientifically designed one-story installation. But Har 
vester s experience has proved to its own satisfaction that, 
given modern methods, a complete abandonment of out 
worn practices, a processed arrangement of machinery, 
suitable material-handling systems, adequate lighting 
and ventilating, and above all a personnel trained and 
aggressive and willing to learn, an old factory can be made 
efficient enough to avoid the overhead charge for new 

In all of the factories there is as highly developed a 
system of mass production as the volume of product will 
permit. Quite obviously an implement for which there is a 
trade demand of five thousand a year cannot carry the 
burden of special manufacturing equipment, assembly 
chains, and the like which can desirably be supported by 
a production of a hundred thousand units. Harvester 
makes no one article of which as many are sold as the 


cheaper motor cars. If the Company s manufacturing 
methods are now as efficient as those of the automobile 
world, it is because it has never refused to provide 
the factories with labor-saving, cost-reducing, quality- 
improving machinery. 

Machinery is the essential of mass production. The 
successive machining and assembly operations from the 
basic raw material to the finished product must be studied 
in advance and so related one to another that neither time 
nor effort is wasted between or during operations. Ma 
terials must be conveyed to and from a machine tool so 
that the operator may conserve his energy for direction. 
Equipment performs the heavy labor, the workman does 
the thinking. He has a brain which it cannot rival and it 
has an untiring physique which he cannot match. To 
gether they are unbeatable but always the process is 
the servant of the man. 

Mass production permits a company executive to plan 
his business campaign in advance, sure in the knowledge 
that, once he has provided the factory with an estimate of 
requirements, the nicely balanced succession of operations 
will start to function and will provide him with what he 
wants at the time he wants it. The cost of production 
will be lower than by the time-honored, hit-or-miss meth 
ods of production, for waste will have been eliminated, 
and machines, while they will wear out if unattended, 
will not tire. Man will do the thinking for them, and, if 
he be watchful, will see that cutters do not dull or fix 
tures become displaced. Thus, mass production and its 
constant appeal to brains emphasizes thought and so be 
comes an instrument for answering the world s increas 
ing demand for quality. It is perhaps significant that the 
best quality implements are those which are produced in 
the greatest numbers by the most completely progres- 


sive methods. And the farmer in a faraway corner of 
the world who needs a repair part for his mower or his 
motor truck will find that, because of standardization, 
its dimensions are exactly the same as his old part. He 
puts it on and proceeds with his task. 

Any such integrated system of manufacture puts a 
strain not merely on the factories. What would happen if, 
in the middle of a smoothly flowing mass-production pro 
gram, it were suddenly discovered that the purchasing 
agent had failed to provide pig iron and the foundry could 
not make castings in time for the machine shop to func 
tion? Or if a traffic man had failed to secure freight cars 
for the day of shipment? Or if a construction engineer 
was unable to complete a new building when it was 
needed? Or if a designing engineer could not finish his 
experimental work on a new part early enough to permit 
all these other portions of the whole grand scheme of pro 
duction to function in time to deliver the desired imple 
ments to their future owners? In truth, the ramified 
problems of mass production are many and the system 
of management which can solve them is worthy. This, 
American industry has done. 

How much good there has been in all of this, time can 
tell better than the generation that has done the job. 
Harvester men are not perfect, but on the whole the 
Company has been reasonably successful in its production 
efforts. Much money has been spent on capital improve 
ments. Production costs have been kept under control in 
the face of high labor rates, quality has been improved, 
manufacturing schedules have been maintained, and the 
demands of farmers for an ever-increasing supply of labor- 
saving, food-producing equipment have been met. The 
entire scheme of production has been rebuilt or, per 
haps, it is fairer to say that it is being rebuilt, for to keep 


pace with the ebb and flow of business means an ever- 
unrolling series of improvements. Two factories have been 
entirely abandoned, due to new conditions, three have 
been completely changed from one line of manufacture to 
another, four new ones have been started. Production 
has been integrated so that now three different tractor 
models consume the energies of three factories ; twine is 
spun in three places, depending on distribution; imple 
ments are made in seven different factories according to 
their type, and three plants are devoted to the produc 
tion of collateral parts. There is a complete steel-making 
installation with supporting ore and coal mines. The 
various foreign affiliated companies operate ten factories 
in Canada, France, Germany, and Sweden. 

It has been my own personal pleasure to know that 
they have one and all of them become reasonably efficient. 
Only a few years ago Harvester plant superintendents and 
foremen used to visit the motor centers to learn how the 
outside world conducted its production enterprises. They 
still travel in search of information, for when men stop 
learning, they stop growing; and it is certainly true of 
modern factories that an open-door policy toward visitors 
gains more than it loses. But the tide has turned, and the 
Harvester plants are now receiving visitors, even from 
Detroit, come to learn how manufacturing should be 
organized. There was a time when potential buyers of 
motor trucks for city use, who knew nothing of farm de 
mands for quality, used to question Harvester s ability to 
manufacture up to automotive standards. But times have 
changed, and the production of the instruments of power 
farming demands the best manufacturing skill in the 
world. The former old implement company whose 
methods were once scorned by the youthful proponents of 
the automobile, which was thought to understand nothing 


except cast iron or lumber, and to which such niceties as 
fine manufacturing limits and the heat treatment of alloy 
steels were supposed to be a closed book, has changed. It 
has become young and aggressive again. The efficiency of 
its manufacturing methods is second to none. 

If one should seek to scrutinize the Harvester produc 
tion system, or indeed any other in the field of American 
industry, to discover its most important element, it is 
probable that management would finally be chosen. But 
this is no more than another way of saying that the most 
important element in business in life itself is the 
human factor. Business cannot be successful unless its 
personnel be sound ; and if the president of a company at 
the top or common labor at the bottom be not sound, that 
organization will fail. Harvester is actuated by ideals 
which are great and traditional, but ideals fade if they 
are not given life and reality in the hands of men. It is 
fortunate for the Company that the present application 
of Cyrus Hall McCormick s conception of justice and of 
Cyrus H. McCormick s reiterated demand for fair play 
has succeeded in providing a happy relationship between 
it and its forty thousand factory workers. 

The story of the Harvester Company s early excursion 
into the field of welfare has been told. In 1908, when an 
aggressive interest in the human problem was evinced, 
the things the Company did to establish pensions, benefit 
insurance, factory safety, first aid, employee stock owner 
ship, and the like were a very radical departure from the 
usual practice of employers. In the intervening years, 
every action then taken has been proved to be sound and 
has been enlarged. During the course of its history, Inter 
national has paid out $7,000,000 for pensions and has 
established a pension trust of $23,000,000 to protect the 
old age of its faithful employees. To insure the future 


integrity of pension funds, the trust has been made irre 
vocable. The Employees Benefit Association, maintained 
by employee subscriptions and Company contributions, 
has spent nine and a half million dollars to the end of 1929 
in sickness and death benefits. The record for safety 
through the years is the best of any large company in the 
country. The first-aid stations have become organized 
hospitals, each in charge of capable medical authorities. 
Employee stock ownership has progressed at such a pace 
that between 1908 and 1929 no less than 800,000 shares of 
stock were sold to employees of all ranks, and the end is 
not yet. A new stock plan was announced in the spring of 
1930, and the indications are that many more shares will 
be bought by employees on the favorable terms offered. 
In 1929, a highly successful plan of vacations with pay for 
wage-earning employees was put into effect. 

In March, 1919, there occurred an event which for all 
time stamped the International Harvester Company as 
one of the most forward-looking of industrial organiza 
tions the adoption of the Harvester Industrial Council 
Plan. This plan provided for a works council at each 
plant, composed of representatives elected by the factory 
employees in proportion to their number and of nominees 
appointed by the management. The council was to dis 
cuss and take action upon anything which affected the 
well-being of the workmen, including such possibly con 
troversial matters as wages, hours, and working condi 
tions. Neither the management side nor the elected 
representatives could outvote the other, but an appeal 
to the president of the Company or to arbitrators was 
provided in case of a deadlock. True to its traditional 
open-shop principles, the Company published an absolute 
guaranty in the plan of no discrimination against any 
employee because of race, sex, political or religious affil- 


iation, or membership in any labor or other organization. 

This is the frame of the Magna Charta of Harvester 
workmen. At first some of them regarded it suspiciously, 
fearing that such an apparently munificent gift from an 
employer must have some strings tied to it somewhere. 
When they were called upon to vote whether or not they 
would accept its terms and do business under them, most 
of them agreed to give the plan a trial, but the men of 
McCormick Works, largest of the factories, would have 
none of it. Some of the manufacturing executives were 
also opposed to its terms. They were hurt that the offi 
cials of the Company had not consulted them in preparing 
such a radical departure in labor policy, they did not 
understand it, they feared it would affect their ability 
to maintain discipline, and certain of the older men were 
constitutionally opposed to any compromise with labor. 
The Company s higher executives believed sincerely in 
this forward step in industrial relations ; but they feared 
that premature discussion would crystallize both ultra- 
conservative and ultra-radical opposition. Hence the 
works councils were started quietly. As a matter of fact, 
this speed almost defeated the purpose. 

In subsequent years a better way of introducing such a 
plan was found. Like political democracy, an industrial 
bill of rights must be understood in order to be appreci 
ated. It was not strange that foremen who had grown up 
in the old, outworn school of direct-action factory man 
agement did not understand that a modern world which 
was using modern machinery would also require a modern 
attitude toward labor problems. They did not appreciate 
the fact that the guaranty of good faith to workmen was 
also inferentially a guaranty of fair and adequate man 
agement, which necessarily involves the maintenance of 
plant discipline. Neither they nor the first employee 


representatives grasped the analogy that, just as good citi 
zens support the police powers of an organized community, 
so it is to the interests of the better workmen in a factory 
to support the management. 

Any business enterprise is an oligarchy insofar as a few 
men must manage. The test of ability to direct industry 
is brains. Industry must seek out brains wherever it can 
find them and endow them with power. Add an inherent 
belief in the doctrine of fair play and you have a complete 
picture of the proper interrelation between factory man 
agement and a works council. Workmen do not wish to 
manage production, since they know that their superior 
officers, mostly men who have risen from the ranks, have 
climbed because of superior ability. But wage-earners are 
interested in their own well-being, in the wages they re 
ceive and the hours they work. They do not like to read 
on their department bulletin board a cold notice announc 
ing baldly the termination of employment and never have 
a chance to learn the reason. After all, would you? 

During the first several meetings of each one of the 
Harvester works councils there was much hesitation and 
friction. Management appointees who did not under 
stand the scheme were willing to give lip service to the 
plan because the Company wished it. Employee repre 
sentatives were feeling out the sincerity of the Company 
and trying to discover what new rights they could win for 
their constituents. Much time was spent in stubborn con 
tention about complaints, some of them fancied, some of 
them real. But on both sides were many serious men who, 
catching in the works council plan a glimpse of the future, 
were trying to grope their way toward mutual benefits to 
be gained for all from better industrial relations. They 
persevered and they have won out. 

A works council meeting now, after the years of experi- 


ence and mutual growth, is no routine event, though its 
business is more expeditiously transacted. There are no 
appeals to the president of the Company to settle dead 
locks, nor are there many debates on complaints to adjudi 
cate. The employee representative has already taken up 
his constituent s case with his foreman or, in want of satis 
faction there, with the plant superintendent. Reasonable 
men find it easy to reach reasonable and quick decisions. 
The representative merely reports to the council that such 
and such a decision has been agreed upon. He has learned 
that the management is sincere and that the spoken word 
of a Harvester man is a contract. The foreman, also, and 
perhaps even the superintendent, has been promoted to 
his present position, probably from the ranks, since the 
introduction of the council plan. He has never done busi 
ness in the old-fashioned way, or known the times when 
the interests of management and men were theoretically 
hostile. It is as natural for him to discuss Bill s griev 
ances or Tom s unexplained absence with an employee 
representative as it used to be to curse a stock chaser for 
failure to provide material. 

The foreman and the representative are much more 
interested in what they call constructive policies than 
they are in grievances of which, due partly to modern, 
fair thinking about labor problems and partly to the in 
fluence of the fact of works councils, there are now so few. 
The vacation plan for wage-earners came out of the coun 
cils, the various stock subscription plans were formulated 
with their assistance, and they have been the medium 
through which the men have learned much about the 
economics of the business. Thus, in the dreary days of the 
depression of 1921, they were brought to understand the 
necessity of reducing wages, just as in other circum 
stances they have also been instrumental in persuading 


the management to see the necessity of wage increases. 
Most difficult of all, employee representatives have been 
able to learn from certain council meetings why chang 
ing business conditions would compel the Company to 
close for all time the factory where they had worked for 
many years. In the three cases of this kind, the manage 
ment and the elected representatives of the men have col 
laborated to find new jobs for all of the employees. I ad 
mit that such a method, new and helpful though it may 
be, does not entirely solve the problem of a workman s 
ever-present fear of losing his job; but at least it is better 
than the former plan of posting a brusque notice that 
work would stop with the end of the current day. 

The Industrial Relations Department was organized at 
the time works councils were introduced to father them, to 
centralize and standardize employment methods, and to 
represent the interest of the workers. It is now a separate 
institution in theory only; for the management of labor 
has become an integral part of the production system. 
Harvester superintendents and foremen are human 
enough to understand that workmen are not machines, 
but are reasoning beings like themselves. As a matter of 
fact, any one who thinks otherwise is missing the best 
chance in life of a friendly association. Any one who be 
lieves that none of the errors arising out of the surging 
rush of production can be charged to the superintendent of 
a factory fails miserably to secure the support and assist 
ance of that wise individual, the American workman. So 
it is that works councils are able, if they believe in the 
management, to accomplish many other things: safety, 
for example, the scientific setting of wage rates, and the 
high quality of workmanship that comes from under 
standing, not from orders. 

Harvester factories have always been safe places to 


work and their record before the inception of works 
councils was highly satisfactory. It had been achieved by 
enormous pressure from the top. Machine tools were 
guarded and statistics indicated that the vast majority of 
accidents were due to employee negligence. Then the 
representatives took hold of the problem. A workman 
can explain to a workman so much better than a foreman 
can why, for his own sake, he must play safe. However 
good the International Harvester Company s record for 
safety may have been, it improved remarkably as soon as 
the elected representatives were enlisted in the cause. 
Quite incidentally it is estimated that their influence has 
resulted in a direct wage saving of $3.28 a year for every 
workman on the pay roll. 

The interest of the works council representatives in the 
system of so-called occupational rating, an elaborate 
general job specification that classified the relative value 
of different factory occupations, and in time-study and 
other scientific methods of rate setting, has been part and 
parcel of their growing and intelligent interest in the 
broad system of manufacturing efficiency. Ten years ago 
one would not have dared expose a time-study stop-watch 
for fear of arousing opposition ; or its presence would have 
been a silent signal for a workman to slow down his pace 
in order, as he thought, to get a higher rate. Now, be 
cause through the intervention of their own representa 
tives they understand the scientific and wholesome nature 
of such things, workmen welcome the time-study man. 
They know he represents the efficiency department and 
that efficiently organized production means not only sav 
ings for the Company but higher earnings for the men. 
Labor elimination means fewer men; but, unless times 
are bad, the doctrine of high wages brings high consuming 
power into being, and that in turn carries with it jobs for 


all. Labor-saving devices mean faster production, but 
they also mean less grueling work for a man s muscles, 
better working conditions and more pay. 

Another constructive policy much discussed at works 
council meetings is the question of quality. Here the 
direct benefits to workmen are more remote. Except as a 
means to avoid the usual charge back for spoiled work, 
quality s one appeal is for an interest in the ultimate 
customer. It has been surprising to find how many work 
men are ex-farmers and know the requirements of the 
field. It has also been surprising to find how many other 
workmen had been producing some particular piece for 
years and yet did not know how it functioned or why it 
had to be made just so. To-day there are show rooms in 
every Harvester factory where an employee may study 
his own work in place upon a complete machine. Alex 
Legge said, Quality is the foundation of our business. 
The answer to this challenge is perhaps to be found in the 
vital interest the works council members have taken for 
the past several years in the subject. The representatives 
have learned how to show their constituents the way to 
an intelligent interest in their jobs the quality way, the 
way of building better machines for better farmers. 

Under the former most excellent system of welfare 
work, which could more correctly have been called in 
dustrial betterment/ the many desirable schemes put into 
effect were imposed from the top. A wise management did 
those things which it knew were good for workmen. Under 
the modern system of industrial relations, workmen have 
an opportunity to do their own thinking. That, it seems 
to me, is the fundamental difference between the two. It 
is this that employee representatives are striving for 
when they preach quality in no uncertain tones. They 
are not becoming the agents of management. Rather, 


they are trying to help the great body of workmen to 
better themselves, to become individuals who will have 
pride in their jobs to become better citizens of the 
world of industry. 

At the risk of invidious comparison between factories, 
I mention two concrete illustrations. The McCormick 
works council the men of this plant petitioned the 
Company to install the council plan when they heard how 
well it was operating in the other factories telegraphed 
me proudly not so long ago that the third successive 
month had passed without a major error of manufactur 
ing quality. Six thousand men at work, and yet the in 
spectors could not find one serious variance from specifi 
cations! Recently, also, I had a talk with the men of the 
mower department and congratulated them on building 
250,000 mowers on the new progressive assembly chain 
without one single complaint from the field. Is it strange 
that I believe that the modern production system, both as 
concerns equipment methods and the administration of 
personnel, breeds quality, or that I feel that Harvester 
workmen have come to take pride in their work? Is it 
any wonder that I have learned to stand solidly for works 
councils and that I believe that in their sincerity lies the 
solution of all industrial relations problems? 

Experience with the Harvester system of production 
has convinced me, first, that the matter of personnel is 
the most crucial subject with which a manufacturer has 
to deal, and, second, that an executive in a large Ameri 
can company need look no further than his own ranks for 
material for the personnel of the future. It is his particu 
lar task to find and train these men. This is easy if he 
searches aggressively, for Americans take naturally to 
instruction and are all of them potential organizers. Not 
every workman can rise to the top, but when one of them 


does rise it spurs others on to emulation. It makes little 
difference whether a candidate for promotion is a college 
man come to the manufacturing world to win his way or a 
graduate of the workbench. But he must have brains; 
and he must have courage to stand the competition for 
preferment. It will serve him if he has shown the ability 
to climb up through the ranks. Whoever and whatever 
he may be, the essentially democratic manufacturing 
world will accept him if he can produce. Factory work 
demands men who do things and it has small patience 
either with the machine or the individual that fails. It 
likes to give a newcomer a chance and to instruct him. 
But once he has become a part of the system, he must win 
out or fall. If he wants to rise, all he has to do is prove his 
ability to make good in competition with other able men 
who are striving for promotion. 

The opportunity to win promotion is, I think, the 
greatest single factor in the American industrial system. 
We are even less in danger of being caste-ridden in our 
commerce than in our social life. We offer rewards to 
those who can prove that they have the brains to claim 
them. There is no part of industry where the competition 
of man against man is keener or more able than in the 
field of production. In the case of the Harvester Com 
pany manufacturing and raw material properties there 
are eleven general supervisory positions and thirty super- 
intendencies. Of the former, only one man fills the same 
position he held ten years ago and one exercises similar 
but broader responsibilities. Of the other nine, five were 
not even factory superintendents a decade ago. Out of the 
thirty superintendents, five hold the jobs they had ten 
years ago and four others were heads of less important 
plants. The manufacturing game demands that men grow 





IT is remarkable that during the century of the reaper, 
the hundred-year period that includes within its limits 
the tale of such stirring, man-made events and also the 
record of such increasing service to agriculture, so few 
men have guided this vehicle of achievement. Cyras Hall 
McCormick initiated progress ,and then himself carried it 
on until beyond its fiftieth anniversary. His son, Cyrus, 
bred in his tradition and trained under his direction, car 
ried his work through the stormy middle period when able 
competitors sought to win away from the second genera 
tion what the old lion, the founder of the business, had 
established. Nettie F. McCormick, wife and mother of 
these leaders, provided the link of continuity between the 
generations and, because she was as able as any president, 
might well have held their place. Then came the Inter 
national Harvester Company, and the circumstance of his 
own work held Cyrus H. McCormick, still young and 
inspired by the deeds of the past and the hope of the fu 
ture, in the leadership. This he retained through all the 
troubled years of pioneer organization, litigation, and war 
until, in 1918, he turned a secure and enlarged business 
over to his brother, Harold. 

It is a cardinal principle of growth that each successor 
must add something to the equipment he has received 
from his predecessors. Without this there would be no 
development, no progress, but only decay and the slow 
crumbling of achievement that ends in oblivion. Thus, 
Cyrus H. McCormick enlarged uponhis father s definition 


of implacable justice by extending it to the limitless term, 
fair play; and he softened an inherited determination with 
a restraint and a willingness to compromise which won 
him many battles wherein refusal to admit the validity of 
an opposing point of view would have resulted in stale 
mate. Perhaps the latter of these qualities is really an 
outgrowth of the former; and certainly it was his un 
equivocal fairness his example of truth to all men and 
in all situations which is the living root of Harvester 

It is probable that no one with less tolerance, less per 
severance, and less ability could have continued the work 
of Cyrus Hall McCormick, enlarged the world-wide scope 
of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, and 
led the International Harvester Company through the 
precarious but glowing years of its youth. It was left for 
Harold, born of one leader and trained by another, to be 
the third pilot on the broad seas of the reaper s destiny, to 
endow the whole organization with the fruits of the most 
winning of all personalities. He crowned the fine struc 
ture of Harvester Spirit and made the lowest or the high 
est conscious of a bond of ready, personal affection linking 
Harvester men together, not so much as a team ready 
for the game as in a brotherhood. A l soul-less corpora 
tion may be endowed with character if the personality of 
its commander permits. Under their second president, 
Harvester men learned more than ever before that one of 
the chief duties of a subordinate is to express himself fear 
lessly about organization policies; and thus they carried 
still further the development of a business character. 

Then, in 1922, came Legge, the McCormick-trained 
product of the Harvester ranks. He had learned to plan 
when he rode alone over the Western plains, he had 
learned determination as he fought his way upward in the 


harsh days of the harvester war, he had learned how to 
judge men in his contact with humanity. Farm-bred and 
farm-wise, he understood farm problems as few others. 
Courageous, far-seeing, able, a fighter, kind or severe as 
the case deserved, worthy of respect and admiration, 
every inch a leader whom men leaped to follow, Alex 
Legge has been a captain whom men loved and respected, 
though he might oppose them, and clamored for places 
under his leadership because he never failed them. He and 
the masters who preceded him were men of understanding 
and ideals. An organization, no matter how good the 
men who make up the rank and file, is no better than its 
leader. His men take him for their inspiration, they 
model their conduct on his character, they look to him for 
the challenge which the ability to lead always inspires. 

The internal administration of the International Har 
vester Company is not inherently different from that of 
other large corporations. There is, under the president, 
an executive council composed of the nine chief officers. 
They are at the same time representatives in the coun 
cil deliberations of their own special interests and arbi 
ters of general company policy. Their discussion brings 
possibly conflicting, certainly individualistic opinion 
to bear on all matters which, as most do, touch inter 
ests other than those of a single department. It might 
surprise an outsider to hear the controversies that take 
place around the council table; but, since the strength of 
unanimity is in action resulting from deliberation, such 
of the foundation of farm implement progress as is laid 
there is sure. 

Plans are criticized there and strengthened, but the 
ideas on which they are based frequently come from be 
low. Some people say that the mental power of an execu 
tive can be measured in terms of the ability of his juniors 


to think. The chief usually has more experience than 
the subordinate, and is able, therefore, to spur him on 
to aggressive mental energy and at the same time act 
as a proper check on youthful enthusiasm. Such, at all 
events, is the way of the Harvester Company. The 
juniors in the departments know that their suggestions 
will be considered and so put up plan after plan for discus 
sion, a department head studies them, and then the exec 
utive council deliberates, criticizes, amends, and takes 
action. When the whole cycle is complete, the scheme, if 
adopted, will in all probability contain less risk as well as 
more potential progress. 

The main departments which direct the Company s 
activities are: executive, treasury, accounting, law, and 
agricultural extension; sales, stock, collections, and adver 
tising; manufacturing, industrial relations, engineering, 
and purchasing; and steel, fiber, traffic, patents, and con 
struction. I have deliberately refrained from listing them 
as they are grouped under the members of the executive 
council because it is a cardinal element of Harvester 
policy that there shall be no restricting or constricting or 
ganization chart. The Company s activities are thought 
of in terms of their object. To meet the constantly chang 
ing demands of farm life, the framework must be flexible. 
Also, a business group is after all nothing more than a col 
lection of men, some of whom are strong and can carry 
much responsibility, some of whom are weak if they are 
overloaded and yet entirely adequate within a limited 
sphere. Therefore, the head of the organization should at 
all times be able to swing an activity from one depart 
ment to another, depending upon the men available to 
carry the load. 

Again! say that the training of men is the chief job of 
any executive. Whether he is high or low, he cannot be 


said to be fulfilling the responsibilities placed upon him un 
less he is able at any moment to nominate his own succes 
sor. He is the friend and the impartial judge of all of the 
men under him. He fights their battles against the world, 
and at the same time creates competition for promotion 
so that, when it comes time to make a choice among them, 
the successful candidate will be a better man because he 
has been pressed ahead by a close rival. He keeps the 
narrowing funnel of candidates for promotion full by 
feeding new ones in at the bottom. Some men will thrust 
their heads above any crowd, but such rare individuals 
are few; and yet with a little training many will prove 
that they have potential brains which, when developed, 
will each have a contribution to make to the whole. By 
the same token he is prepared, hard though it may seem, 
to weed out weak men in order to make room for strong 
ones. One of the wisest of all Harvester men once said to 
me, It is no sin to make a mistake and pick the wrong 
man for a job, but it is a crime to leave him there after 
you know he is the wrong man/ Workmen realize at 
least as soon as the factory superintendent when their 
foreman is weak; and a man s associates are as aware of 
his faults as of his strength. The executive gains no re 
spect in the minds of his subordinates if he temporizes in 
matters of personnel. For the building of organization 
morale, the art of dismissing inferior men is second only 
to the art of promoting good ones. 

Always there are men in the lower operating positions 
in training for future enlarged responsibilities. Experi 
ence is the fundamental of correct practice. Executive 
control requires knowledge of what is happening on the 
firing line. As a matter of fact the policy of traveling 
abroad to study the field operation of Harvester-made 
machinery has from time immemorial been an element of 


the executive control of the farm implement business. 
No written report can possibly convey as eloquent a mes 
sage as one look at a tractor binder struggling in Alberta 
wheat, no letter would ever be able to tell adequately the 
story of cotton cultivation in Texas. Farm problems seem 
to vary with the wind. One must go to them, study them, 
let them explain themselves, before one can have any true 
comprehension of agriculture or agricultural implements. 
The engineers and the factory men have learned to realize 
that a plow built for sandy soil will too often meet stones, 
the salesmen have come to understand production condi 
tions and so are able to sell and service production-made 
machinery. Most of all, Harvester executives travel 
abroad and get their information at first hand from the 
field. They have gained much inspiration from the men 
on the firing line and have brought to the far frontiers 
whatever help there may be in the contact of field and 
factory with the parent source of Harvester Spirit. 

One of the subdivisions of the Company s activities 
listed above is the Agricultural Extension Department. 
No account of the century following the invention of the 
reaper would be complete without a reference to it; and 
yet, due to the circumstances surrounding its origin and 
organization, it is impossible to discuss it in the same 
breath with any of International s commercial achieve 
ments. At about the time when the International Har 
vester Company was first venturing into the field of wel 
fare work for its employees, it occurred to Cyrus H. Mc- 
Cormick that the Company might properly interest itself 
in the general welfare of its chosen public, the farmers. 
Accordingly a small service bureau was organized which 
distributed bulletins and the like giving advice on general 
farm problems. These bulletins dealt, not with any 
phase of Harvester s business, but rather with the day-to- 


day problems arising out of farm operation. So well were 
they received throughout the agricultural community 
that it soon became necessary to enlarge the scope of the 
work, and in 1912 a separate department was organized. 

The Agricultural Extension Department has no connec 
tion with any of the Harvester Company s other depart 
ments. It is wholly non-commercial. Its entire business 
is to demonstrate and popularize good farming methods, 
not farm machinery. It is an educational institution akin 
to a State agricultural college, though, being both private 
and nation-wide, it can attack any farm problem any 
where. It is a service bureau for farmers which seeks to 
increase farm production and reduce farm waste; to im 
prove rural living conditions; to make the farmer more 
prosperous; to help him safeguard his family s health; to 
advise his wife how her housework may be made easier 
and her life happier; and to instill into the minds of farm 
boys and girls an enduring love for the farm and a greater 
interest in the pursuit of agriculture. 

Consistent with these objects, Harvester s president is 
reported to have said, I believe that every company or 
organization of men doing business in any community, no 
matter where or how removed from the central office, is in 
duty bound to do something to help build that commun 
ity, aside from the things required by law or the things 
beneficial to itself. The Harvester Company is a citizen 
of every community in which it sells a machine, and it is 
not a good citizen if it does not perform some service in 
that community, the same as any citizen who lives there 
would be expected to perform/ 

To accomplish its service functions, the Agricultural 
Extension Department maintains a staff of agricultural 
experts, several of them drawn from the faculties of 
agricultural colleges. It provides crews of speakers and 


demonstrators who conduct short courses or more ex 
tensive campaigns on agricultural or home problems. It 
furnishes lecturers who participate in educational or other 
community gatherings and speak on agricultural sub 
jects. It has prepared a great number of charts, lantern 
slides, and motion-picture films, which are lent to county 
agents, farmers organizations, schools, and chambers of 
commerce for use in their work, or even to an individual 
who exhibits a sincere desire to labor in his community for 
the cause of agricultural betterment. It has published a 
variety of booklets dealing with modern methods of dairy 
ing, cropping, poultry, organizing farm housework, and 
kindred subjects. It maintains one of the best libraries on 
agricultural subjects in the country, and corresponds with 
countless individual farmers who write to ask advice on 
this or that particular problem. Since the department 
was organized, members of the staff have spoken at 23,600 
meetings to more than four and a half million people. 
Seventeen million booklets have been sold at cost and its 
articles have been reprinted in thousands of publications. 
A million people a year see its charts and films in the hands 
of other lecturers. 

An important function of the Agricultural Extension 
Department is the operation of several demonstration 
farms. These are situated principally in the Southeastern 
States, in the Northwest, and in Canada, where adverse 
climatic or soil or other conditions make the perplexities 
of farm life keener. These farms are not equipped with 
anything not usable by, or beyond the reach of, an 
average farmer in the community. The farms are chosen 
with a view of proving to local agriculturists that they 
can profitably work the land in their own district. In the 
South, the Department s practical scientists have shown 
how run-down cotton plantations may be redeemed and 


devoted to dairy and diversified farming. In the North 
west, propaganda has been spread for soil conservation 
and the raising of corn and cattle. Everywhere the 
demonstration farms have taught the all-important mes 
sage of diversification, agriculture s insurance against the 
perils of one-crop farming. 

It is obvious that work of this kind is well-nigh as 
important to the well-being of farmers as is that of the 
State agricultural colleges. Indeed, there is the closest 
cooperation between them and the department. In each 
case the object is precisely similar: farm prosperity. It 
may be objected that, in maintaining an extension depart 
ment, the International Harvester Company is really 
doing a selfish work. To be sure, the Company is laboring 
to make farmers prosperous; and, since they are its prin 
cipal customers, it is to be presumed that prosperity for 
them will mean a greater sale of its machines. One might 
as well suggest that the States maintain agricultural 
colleges in order to increase the taxable assets of their 
citizens. But Harvester is more interested in aiding the 
welfare of farmers than in proving the impersonal nature 
of its attitude toward extension work. The farmers of 
the country know that it is sincere. The Company knows 
that it can have no success in business unless farming is 

The Harvester Company s business is by no means out 
standingly profitable. But it is a fine business. It deals 
with farming, the most basic of all industries. Its prod 
ucts are essential to farm production and prosperity. 
It has service to render as well as goods to sell. It is no 
wonder that Harvester men speak of their organization, 
not as International/ but as Harvester/ There is real 
pride as they let the name roll over their lips, real 
gratitude as they think of the satisfaction they have 


earned. They are loyal, they have ideals, they serve. 
Perhaps, even to-day, in all the hurly-burly of modern 
life and modern business, some of them feel as does that 
old pensioner whose wife remarked the other day : l Yes, 
my man always was a good carpenter. I used to beg and 
plead with him for years to get away from the shop and 
be a contractor and builder. He could have made a 
lot more money to raise six children on. But no, he was 
so in love with that old corn husker of his that he just 
wouldn t leave it/ 


THE scope of the farm implement industry of the future, 
considered either in terms of its own success or of its 
ability to keep abreast of agriculture, will depend entirely 
on how f armers;solve the problems which are now, and for 
several years past have been, giving them concern. Pros 
perity is one matter ; the handling of prosperity is another. 
It would take a bolder prophet than I to suggest the 
successive steps to be taken on the road to prosperity, 
but the way itself is reasonably clear. A part of this way 
has lain within the chosen province of International 
Harvester and its constituent units. Throughout the 
years of the reaper century, they sought as they could 
and in their own field to foster farm prosperity. 

In the long run the industry of farming cannot but be 
profitable. The population of the world is increasing and 
the quantity of land is fixed. Men must eat. Such diffi 
culty as there is lies in the short swing. The farm problem 
is complicated by the fact that it is social as well as 
economic. There are six million and more farms in the 
United States, counting truck gardens as well as hundred- 
thousand-acre wheat factories. These farms are occupied 
by a fifth of the Nation s population. But a hundred 
years ago three-quarters of our people lived by agricul 
ture. Even so, the increasing population of the country 
has continued to be fed and clothed with the products 
of the declining number who have remained on the land, 
and much has been left over for export. This, it seems, is 
a correct measure of the whole-hearted effort which the 
farmer has Invested in his own individual efficiency. . 


The National Census gave no figures with regard to 
occupations until 1850. Since that time the number of 
persons gainfully employed in agriculture has doubled. 
But the number engaged in all occupations has increased 
six times. There are ten times as many employees in the 
Nation s factories, and the staff of its transportation 
system is thirty times as great as it was. The value of all 
American produce has increased much more than the 
ratio of one to six because of the individual and collective 
efficiency which the United States offers as its best con 
tribution to civilization. The ten times as many indus 
trial workers eat better food than before and the army of 
thirty times the previous number of transportation em 
ployees is better clothed. The increasing wants of the 
greatly increased numbers have been supplied by only 
double the number of farmers. 

The above ratios indicate that the farmer has kept fair 
pace with the rate of urban efficiency. In actual numbers 
those persons gainfully employed in agriculture (which 
total neglects children, the hope of the future, and those 
superannuated men and women whose work lies behind 
them) are even now actually decreasing. In 1900 the 
figure stood at less than 10,900,000, whereas in 1929 it is 
estimated at 10,400,000. That is what the rapid develop 
ment of farm equipment has enabled farmers to do. 
With every possible aid of machinery and the telling 
methods of mass production, the factory worker has 
increased his annual output forty-four per cent since 
1900, according to the National Industrial Conference 
Board. During the same time the farmer has increased 
his production forty-seven per cent. He has done so prin 
cipally because he has provided himself with modern 
equipment. With machinery and it was good ma 
chinery, as far as it went but without any collective 


action, the advancing efficiency of the farm has equaled 
the improvement in industry, aided though it was by 
mass production. 

In these same years there has occurred a tremendous 
growth of the export trade in manufactured articles. 
This has been accomplished without disturbing the con 
stant advance of what is known as the American standard 
of living. Efficiency has allowed American production, 
either because of superior quality or ..because of a lower 
price, to overcome the apparent initial advantage of a 
lower European rate of wages and the Oriental problem 
of a superfluity of numbers. But we have seen fit to 
protect our standard of living by a high protective tariff 
wall, which has availed little in the case of agriculture 
because we are exporters and not even potential im 
porters of the principal farm products. I do not seek 
to discuss what is manifestly a controversial politico- 
economic question, but it appears obvious that the an 
swer to the farm problem lies, as it lay in the case of 
industry, in a further reduction of the cost of production 
to enable American farmers to compete for the world 
markets. Farmers as a group have already invested them 
selves with unexcelled efficiency. Yet their trade is lan 
guishing because they have been unable to protect their 
standard of living in comparison with that of the cities. 

There is much real hope for the future in the possibility 
of lower farm production costs. Consider only what the 
harvester-thresher has done in the last ten years in re 
ducing the cost of wheat-raising. Twenty-five millions 
of dollars a year has been deducted from the previous 
production cost of the principal crop of Kansas alone. 
The inventive genius of this manufacturing generation 
has done that with wheat, for most Kansas farmers use 
the new implement instead of the old header. Yet there 


is much talk to the effect that the same procedure can 
not be employed in moister climates without injury to the 
quality of the grain. Possibly so; but the International 
Harvester Company and other implement manufacturers 
have offered the windrower and a new principle of har 
vesting to the Northwest and to Canada. Perhaps the 
same principle will also serve the Eastern States. 

But farms are smaller in the East and their reduced 
acreage cannot usefully employ the same machinery as 
the larger farms of the West. Land must be cultivated 
more intensively, or for that produce which returns a 
greater profit per unit. It would not serve Cuba to 
abandon its traditional crop for breadstuffs, even though 
Java can produce cheaper sugar. It will not serve the 
Maine farmer to raise wheat any more than his brother 
of the prairie States can afford to compete with Aroostook 
County potatoes. The indications of cost study are that 
the corn-belt farmer would best confine himself to corn 
and its concomitants, leaving small grains to the dryer 
districts where land is cheaper. The farmer s problem 
is one of production and the cost of production. 

In this connection, there has been much discussion of 
what the size of the farm of the future will be. Remem 
bering that the wheat-belt farmer has, with the aid of the 
tractor and the harvester-thresher, succeeded in com 
pletely eliminating the problem of imported harvest 
labor, it may be suggested that the question of labor, or 
rather its absence, will solve the matter of area. Where 
Kansas used to be overrun with laborers who might or 
might not want to work, the farmer and the members of 
his family now take care of the cycle of the harvest. He 
and his tractor can plow, harrow, and drill; or, if he be 
minded to work long hours, his son can spell him driving 
the iron horse. When harvest time comes, he himself will 


manipulate the combine, his daughter steers the tractor, 
and his young son, who is perhaps preparing to go to 
the State agricultural college in the fall, chugs up in a 
motor truck to carry the grain away to the elevator or to 
the bin. If, as some commentators on farm life have 
stated, this is thought to be a lazy type of farming, try 

it It is work, work for all, old and young, the type of 

work which in the end must spell either success or be an 
insolvable equation. It is a kind of work which suggests, 
because of its efficient economy and freedom from waste, 
that the proper size farm of the future will be one which, 
by aid of machinery, a man may operate with no labor 
except that of himself and his family. 

The ultimate in farm equipment has by no means 
been reached, even with the all-purpose tractor and its 
attachments. The only thing that can ever limit the 
introduction of machinery to any task is the interrelation 
of the overhead charge for equipment and the reduction 
of the direct labor charge to a minimum. A machine 
should be asked to demonstrate its ability to pay for itself 
by the savings it can make. It is, however, true that 
when there appears a real demand, for a mechanical 
process, in farming or in manufacturing, one will ulti 
mately be supplied. Thus, a successful cotton-picking 
machine will be at length devised and then there will 
remain only the relatively simple problem of cotton 
chopping to solve before the planter can be as free of 
his labor difficulties as the wheat farmer is to-day. As 
soon as that happens, he will also be able to complete his 
crop by machinery, without any labor except that of 
himself and his family. He will no longer have to provide 
sustenance for workers who are unproductive for such a 
large portion of the year. He will be master of his own 


There will always be some large farms. In certain dis 
tricts of the world the inhabitants, lowly peasants for the 
most part, are not of an intelligence to operate a system 
of the kind I am describing. In other places, climate or 
soil conditions may dictate a low yield per acre and 
require such an expanse of territory to make a crop that 
the limits of family efficiency cannot extend to cover it. 
Or there may appear some particular genius at organiza 
tion who can gain more for other men working with and 
for him than they can earn by themselves. Also some 
new process of agriculture or of agricultural equipment 
may be developed to change the face of farming. Deal 
ing, though, with the realm of present knowledge and with 
those betterments which there is immediate reason to 
anticipate, it seems to me fair to expect that the size of 
American farms will for the present continue to be con 
trolled by the extent of the substitution of machinery 
for labor. 

In the broader consideration of the cost of production 
there appear to be two avenues of progress ahead. Farm 
operating equipment may be improved and yields may 
be increased. Far be it from me to urge overproduction 
as a remedy for the ills of the farm. A business enterprise 
does not willingly overproduce, and conditions will be bet 
ter for agriculture if and when it is able to schedule pro 
duction in terms of estimated future demand. Individual 
industries have done much in this direction, but they have 
by no means reached a solution applicable to all industry. 
As in 1921, each feels that it will survive better than its 
competitors, and there does not yet exist any industry 
wide centralization of the control of total production. 
There can be no permanent prosperity for factory or farm 
until this problem is finally solved. Therefore, it is 
enough to say for the present that, within the limit of the 


demand, agricultural scientists can do much for farmers 
by developing better methods of cultivation, soil con 
servation, fertilization, irrigation, transportation, and 
control of insects and other pests, to say nothing of a 
constant study of ordinary day-to-day methods of farm 
operation. Success depends much more upon the yield 
per acre than on the number of acres farmed. The 
American farmer has gone far in per-man efficiency ; he 
has far to go in per-acre efficiency. 

The farm equipment industry is very well aware that 
its future status depends entirely upon the prosperity of 
the farmer. It has a greater stake in the game than the 
sale of a certain number of machines built in any one 
year. Its destiny is mortgaged just as surely as its past 
has been dedicated. It may grow or it may shrink, but 
how it develops will be according to how the world deals 
with the farmer. 

International Harvester and the other companies are 
therefore devoting endless thought and money toward the 
development of machine methods which will aid in pro 
ducing the largest possible yield at the lowest possible 
cost. If there were no other reason, there would be ample 
justification for the formation of the International Har 
vester Company in the mechanical processes which its ex 
perimental effort has been able to provide. The reaper, the 
mower, and the binder are the machines upon which im 
plement history is founded. They spelled the initial suc 
cess of agriculture, and without them the United States 
could never have become the great farming country that 
it is. The reaper has gone, but Cyrus Hall McCormick s 
work is still apparent in the successive machine genera 
tions that have arisen from his thought. His first crude 
implement is now to be interpreted not merely as a page 
of past history. Its spirit is alive to-day in its heirs 


in the harvester-thresher which is its lineal descendant, 
in the tractor which is the legitimate offspring of the 
reaper s substitution of mechanism and power for the 
puny efforts of an unaided arm, and in the plows and cul 
tivators and legion of machines which are the collateral 
children of the idea that, in 1831, produced the first 
farm machine. 

Yet our generation must never think that the tale of 
progress has been told. What does it count in the last 
analysis if, by means of the most recent machinery com 
bined with a supply of controllable power, the implement 
companies have found ways and means of increasing the 
per-man production and reducing the cost accordingly? 
The farmer has not yet done enough the companies 
have not yet done enough. New materials must be found, 
lighter and cheaper than those with which we now have 
to deal ; unknown methods of reducing wear and increas 
ing the life of machinery must be explored and made 
practical ; undreamed-of methods of manufacturing must 
be devised to reduce still further the price of equipment; 
new tools must be invented to reduce time and decrease 
cost. What if the price of an agricultural implement is 
less per pound than that of an ordinary cookstove; or if 
a tractor is relatively less expensive than an automobile, 
and if its life, measured in terms of the work it does, is 
longer? Let us immediately begin to try to plan some 
thing better. What if gasoline is so cheap that many 
users of tractors do not bother to use the slightly cheaper 
kerosene? There are still the interesting possibilities of 
the combustion qualities of fuel oil to investigate; or 
there is industrial alcohol which might be made on the 
farm from vegetable refuse. Or, if imagination be per 
mitted to run further afield into the realm of the im 
possible/ there is wireless transmission of electric power 


controlled lightning which might some day actuate 
moving machinery at the wave of a wand. 

Such things are chimerical but they are not one whit 
more imaginary than were the mechanical visions of 
Jules Verne or than the tractor was before the reaper was 
invented. Who will discover them, none knows. Appleby 
devised the twine binder when McCormick would have 
given half of his reaper kingdom to have been its dis 
coverer. The International Harvester Company is spend 
ing millions on experimental improvements preparing for 
the future. It will continue to do so as long as the farmer 
marches on. 

Perhaps those certain but now unseen steps ahead in 
agricultural machine progress will come from the farm 
itself and not from any of the organized centers of imple 
ment research. (Do not forget that the reaper was born 
on a farm !) The farmer is a very much improved type of 
mechanic from what he was twenty, thirty, or forty 
years ago. Many of the old tales of former field experts 
have to do with fixing a complaining farmer s mental 
attitude with honeyed words, then banging loudly and 
innocuously with a hammer on some guiltless piece of 
iron, and announcing that the job was done. As a matter 
of fact, it was done ; for complaints were frequently more 
fancied than real and were too often due to the operator s 
own ignorance, of which it would have been tactless to 
advise him. The advent of the farmer-owned motor car 
and of the tractor changed that. Out of them farmers 
got a first grip on the principles of machine operation. 
Through breakdowns on the road or in the field, far from 
help, they learned because they had to. Next came the 
war when perhaps two million farm boys, whether they 
got to the front or not, were trained by the Government 
in some mechanical trade or other. They returned home 


to discover that a tractor was preparing to do the work 
of the old teams ; and with it they were able immediately 
to put their new knowledge into practice. 

A by-product of this mechanical education has been 
Its effect on the quality of farm machinery. While there 
never has been a time when anything would get by, 
there is no doubt that former standards of excellence 
would be considered insufficient to-day. The result of 
automotive experience and of army trade schools has 
been that the critical opinion of farmers has advanced 
as rapidly as the implement companies have been able 
to improve their product. Thus, the farm equipment 
operators of the new generation have not only been in a 
position to demand more of the men who sold them ma 
chinery, but, by the same token, have been able to give 
better attention to the machinery they bought. Where it 
was once customary for a farmer to call for expert assist 
ance to adjust a knotter-head or the compressor spring 
on a binder (in all probability he could not have diag 
nosed the trouble himself, but merely thought that the 
damn thing was rotten and no good ), it is now rare for 
him to ask for help except in major difficulties. When a 
machine, whether a tractor or a power-driven disk har 
row, has been started by the dealer or the company 
expert, the farmer usually keeps it in shape himself. 

This farmer of to-day is also far better grounded in 
the science of agriculture than he used to be. The time 
was when theory was second, but to-day there are thou 
sands of eager students in the agricultural colleges. 
They are all farm boys and girls, come there to learn the 
principles of better agriculture. Too many of them go 
thence to the cities, where it is thought that a college 
degree is a passport to riches; but many return to their 
homes and take up the work for which their State has 


tried to fit them. The 4-H Clubs all over the land are a 
primary training ground where farm boys and girls may 
learn better ways of farm usefulness. I think it is safe to 
say that if the city dweller gave such assiduous attention 
to the underlying theory of accountancy, banking, and 
what not as the modern farmer gives to the science of 
farming, theoretical as well as practical, we should be 
living in a more efficient world. 

The agricultural implement industry of the future is 
tied inseparably to such men as these. Their duty is to 
raise those products which feed and clothe the world. 
Its duty is to serve their need for the tools of their trade. 
American farming stands in the lead largely because of 
the native intelligence of American farmers. Here is no 
peasantry, enslaved for generation after generation to the 
soil and to exhausting labor. Here is an upstanding man. 
Why not be glad to serve him? The city is not necessarily 
opposed to the country just because it manufactures the 
shoes, clothes, tractors, automobiles, and radios which 
the country buys; nor does the farmer have to oppose 
urban interests to sell his produce. In reality we are one 

Since Cyrus Hall McCormick demanded quality work 
manship of his factory because he understood farm needs, 
the men who have been proud to deal with the reaper 
and its heirs have regarded their lives as dedicated to a 
service. I know that Harvester men are happier when 
they hear that the machine they have made has been 
sold, and that the metal they have fused with their hope 
and beaten with the hammer strokes of their existence 
has been put to work. When they sell it, they are not 
satisfied until they see it in a field, doing the labor of men 
who would otherwise be weary and overburdened and 
serving scantily the world s demand for bread. 


Harvester s course is a hundred years old and Har 
vester men are celebrating the centennial of him who 
first taught machinery to serve. It is young, for its tradi 
tion is strong and forward-looking. Times and condi 
tions, life itself, are changing and the world is demanding 
new contributions from us, the new servants of its des 
tiny. The age of individualism has passed and the age of 
collectivism is here. We cannot hope to be pioneers, be 
cause the foundation and framework of our economic and 
social life have already been constructed. We are inheri 
tors in a triumphant succession. But if we cannot build 
life, we can enhance it: we, too, can learn to serve. 

We have problems to meet that are not so new as those 
of the pioneers, but yet are more complicated. Our fore 
fathers created little enterprises that have grown into 
huge industries. Our work is so to manage and develop 
them that they shall continue to march step for step with 
civilization, never lagging behind in the theory or the 
practice of producing to meet social needs. Their prob 
lem was the production of ideas; our problem is the 
application of known facts in a broader way. Their task 
was to conceive; ours is to organize and carry out. If we 
of to-day are more efficient, it is because we have the 
benefit of their work; if ours is a wider sphere, it is be 
cause we inherit the results of their pioneering; if we 
build higher, it is because they builded the foundation 
deep and wide; if we are nearer the ultimate of human 
happiness, it is because they, the lonely and uplifted 
pioneers of all our modernity, pierced the age-old barrier 
and opened the door for us into a limitless field of 
directed endeavor, of definite achievement, of ordered 
and organized progress. 




Accidents to employees, financial 
relief provided for, 136 

Advertising, the beginning of modern, 
in McCormick s methods, 33, 43- 
47; broadening of methods of, 99; 
is now a specialized science, 231 

Africa, trade of International Har 
vester Co, with, 122, 244, 245 

Agricultural Extension Department, 
Harvester Co., 276-79 

Agriculture, before the time of Mc- 
Cormick, 4, 5, 13; and industry, 4; 
in Egypt, 12, 13; in isolated and 
backward communities of the 
present clay, 14; self -dedication of 
McCormicks to cause of, 142, 143; 
European, more provincial than 
American agriculture, 224; num 
bers engaged in, 281, 282; the 
farmer s acquaintance with the 
science of, 290, 291 

All-purpose tractor, 209-12, 219 

American Harvester Co., formation 
of, 107, 1 08; death of, 108, 109 

American manufacturing system, 
depends upon standardization and 
mass production, 41 

Anderson, Jo, Negro slave, I, 2, n 

Antipodes, trade of International 
Harvester Co. with, 122 

Appleby, John F,, produces twine 
binder, 70, 71, 92 

Argentine, the tractor in, 158; 
harvester-thresher in, 245 

Atkins, Jearum, his Iron Man 
machine, 64 

Auburn Works. See Osborne Works 

Aultman-Miller Co., of Akron, Ohio, 
bought by International Harvester 
Co., 123, 124 

Australia, the tractor in, 158; Har 
vester service in, 244, 245 

Austria, McCprmick s reaper in, 56; 

the tractor in, 158 
Auto buggy, 124 
Automobile industry, discovers that 

price of labor and labor cost differ, 

253, 254 
Avery, B. F., of Louisville, 185 

Bancroft, Edgar A., 171 

Beam, heat-treated, 220 

Behel, his idea for the knotter, 71 

Bell, worked on problem of reaper, 


Benefit insurance, 261 
Bessemer, Sir Henry, his invention iix 

^steel, 3 

Binder, wire, 69, 204; twine, 70, 71, 
204; steel, 92; Mow-down corn, 
92; right-hander, 93; average 
yearly sale of, before 1902, 121; 
compared with harvester-thresher, 
213, 214 

Binder twine, Deering anticipates 
McCormick in making, no; failure 
of Harvester Co. in, 122, 123, 129, 
130; made in Harvester Co. s 
Works in Sweden, Germany, and 
France, 133; sisal fiber for, 176; 
sale of, 201 
Bindlochine, 92 
Blockmen, 227-29 
Branch advertising man, 231 
Branch houses, 227; the staff of, 232 
Branch manager, the, 227; his force of 
field experts, 228; his assistant, 230; 
duties of, 230; is the general agent 
of the past, 231; has assistance of 
branch advertising man, 231 
Branch warehouses, 233-36 
Bread riots, in New York in 1837 
British spinners, make first effort at 
industrialization, 38 



Brockport manufacturers. See Sey 
mour and Morgan 

Buckeye mower, 60 

Bull Tractor Co., 159 

Burrall s reaper, 46 

Burt, D. R-, 229 

Butler, E. K., general manager of the 
McCormick Co., and then of the 
American Harvester Co., 108 

Canada, as tractor market, 156; 

Harvester Co. in, 243 
Canton Works, 192 
Canvassers, 227 
Capital and labor, 135 
Carpenter, S. D., preaches doctrine of 

mechanical binding, 68, 7 1 
Case (J. I.) Threshing Machine Co., 


Cellini, Benvenuto, 40 

Central Europe, trade of Interna 
tional Harvester Co. with, 122 

Champion, and McCormick, 101, 
103-05; and the International Har 
vester Co., 117 

Champion lines, sold by Harvester 
Co. in accordance with consent de 
cree of 1918, 171, 180, 185 

Champion Works (Springfield), re 
tained by Harvester Co. at sale of 
Champion lines, 186 

Chattanooga Plow Co., 191 

Chattanooga Works, 192 

Chicago, in 1847, 28; in 1884, 86 

Chicago Daily Journal, its article 
on The Magic Machinery, 37, 

Chicago Fire, 51, 73-75 

Chicago Times, owned by Mc 
Cormick, 8 1 

Chicago Tribune, quotation from, 42 

Chile, nitrates of, 176 

China, farm power in, 244, 245 

Chopin, Fr6de"ric Francois, 7 

Civil War, the, 62, 63, 80 

Cleveland, Pres. Grover, and the 
railway strike, 135 

Collection manager, 232 

Columbian Exposition (1893), 94 

Commercial methods, and modern 
inventions, 41. See also Industry 

Compensation, for accidents to em 
ployees, 136 

Competition, 94-107, 193-201, 270 

Conger, Col. A. L., president of 
Whitman, Barnes Co., 108 

Continuity of employment, 138 

Contracts, commission, 239, 240 

Corn binders, low-down/ 92; Mc 
Cormick and Deering, 94-96; made 
by Harvester Co., 145 

Corn husker, 145, 147 

Corn lister, 189 

Corn pickers, 145, 147, 219 

Corn planters, 146, 189, 219 

Corn sheller, 145, 147 

Cost plus war production, 175 

Cotton-gin, invention of, 3 

Cotton-picking machine, 285 

Cotton planters, 219 

Couchman, of International Har 
vester Co., 144 

County agents, 98 

Cradle, invention of, 14; use of, 14, 
29; use of, in Great Britain, 55 

Crance, R. T., of Chicago, 74 

Cream separators, introduced by 
International Harvester Co., 121, 
124, 125, 130, 145, 147 

Credit manager, 232 

Credit system, introduced by Mc 
Cormick, 33, 5-5 2 

Cromwell, Oliver, his intellect, 84 

Crystal Palace Exhibition (1851), 


Cultivators, introduced by Inter 
national Harvester Co., 121, 124, 
146; walking, 188; multiple-row, 
210, 219 

Cutter-bar serrations, post-invention 
improvement of reaper, 57 

Darwin, Charles, 7 

Dealer, the, 226, 227, 236-42 

Deere, John, inventor of the steel 

plow, 65, 66 

Deere (John) Plow Co., 193 
Deering, William, builds twine 



binder, 70, 71 ; experiments on The 
Prairie Chicken/ 93; chairman of 
board of directors of American 
Harvester Co., 108, 109; member 
of voting trust of International 
Harvester Co,, 118 

Deering Co., and McCormick Co., 
rivalry of, 94-112; and the In 
ternational Harvester Co., 117; 
branches of, in Odessa and South 
America, 244 

Deering corn binder, 94-96 

Deering ore leases, 128 

Deering Works, under International 
Harvester Co., 131, 132 

Democracy, experimental, 31 

Demonstration farms, 278, 279 

Densmore s reaper, 46 

Depression, in years following 1920, 

Disk harrows, 124; with heat-treated 
disks, 220 

Distribution, earlier methods of, 
94-98; present methods of (Har 
vester Co.), 226-46. See also Ad 

Drills, multiple, 253 

Dr hiking-fountain, 137 

Dumping, 183, 184 

Edgar, of International Harvester 

Co., 144 

Edmonton, Harvester Co. at, 243 
Efficiency, 205; and environment, 

137, 138; modern, 251-55, 261; of 

the farm, 281-83 
Egypt, plagues of, 5; agriculture and 

agricultural implements in, 12, 13, 

Emerson-Brantingham Co., 185, 186, 

Employee stock ownership, 261, 262, 


Employees, welfare of, I35~39- $ ee 
also Welfare work 

Employees Benefit Association, es 
tablished by International Har 
vester Co., 136, 262 

Ensilage cutters, 146, 147 

Environment, influence of, on effi 
ciency, 137, 138 

Executive, training of men the chief 
job of, 274, 275 

Exhaust systems, 137 

Experimental work, 147-50 

Expositor, owned by McCormick, 81 

Factories, in 1850, 41; of the Har 
vester Co., 251, 255-58, 260; ma 
chine methods in, 253-55; multi 
ple-story and single floor, 255, 256 

Factory hospitals, 137 

Factory safety, 261 

Famine, in Europe, 5; and popula 
tion, 5 

Farm credits, 50-52 

Farm equipment, the ultimate in, 
285, 287; possible future improve 
ments in, 288, 289 

Farm implement retailers, the first, 

Farm prosperity, importance of, 194 

Farmall (or all-purpose) tractor, 
209-12, 219 

Farmers, self -dedication of Mc 
Cormick to cause of, 142; wheat, 
189; corn-belt, 190; grass, 190; 
cotton, 190; rice, 190; potato, 190; 
beet, 190; standard of living of, 
283; their problem, one of produc 
tion and the cost of production, 
284; mechanical knowledge of, 

289, 290; scientific knowledge of, 

290, 291 

Farming, in the years of depression 
following 1920, 178; in the East 
and in the West, 284. See also 

Farms, in United States, 281; the 
future, probable size of, 284-86 

Farwell, John V., of Chicago, 74 

Fiber, sale of, by International 
Harvester Co., 121; cost of, 176 

Field, Marshall, 51 

Field and Leiter, of Chicago, 74 

Field locomotive, 154 

Field tests, 94, 95, 100-02 

First aid, 137, 261, 262 



Flax, not adapted to make binder 
twine, 123, 129, 130 

Ford, Henry, his tractor (Fordson), 
161-63, 195-201; his announce 
ment of prices lowered in propor 
tion to rising volume, 255 

Foreign trade, discovered by Mc- 
Cormick, 54; of the International 
Harvester Co., 122 

Fountain Brothers, sell reapers in 
competition with McCormick, 34 

Fowler, Nancy (Nettie) , became wife 
of Cyrus McCormick, 82. See also 
McCormick, Mrs. Cyrus Hall 

France, McCormick s reaper in, 56; 
Harvester Co. s Works at Croix, 
133; the tractor in, 158; Harvester s 
machines in, in the War, 173 

Fulton, Robert, inventor of the 
steam-boat, 3 

Funk, C, S., 140 

Gammon, E. H., in control of Marsh 
factory at Piano, 70 

Gas engine, 154 

Gasoline, used in tractors, I54""57 

General agent, the, 227, 230, 231 

Germany, Harvester Co. s Works at 
Neuss, 133; Harvester s machines 
in, in the War, 173 

Gladstone, W, E., 7 

Glessner, J. J., in partnership with 
Warder, 64 

Gold, discovery of, in California, 29 

Gordon, J. H., his idea of packer 
cranks, 71 

Gordon case, 92 

Gorham, Marquis L., his principle of 
the automatic trip, 71; patents, 92 

Gorham, Mrs. Marquis L., 92 

Grain binders, 19, 145, 148; com 
posite type of (McCormick- 
Deering), 187 

Grain drills, 146 

Gray, in partnership with Mc 
Cormick, 28, 34 

Gray and Warner, of Chicago, 
licensed to build McCormick 
reapers, 28 

Great Britain, use of cradle in, 54, 
55; efforts to solve problem of 
reaper in, 55; McCormick reaper 
wins prizes in, 55, 56; progress of, 
in mechanized harvesting, 56; 
trade of International Harvester 
Co. with, 122; Harvester s ma 
chines in, in the War, 173 

Greeley, Horace, on the reaper s vic 
tory in Paris, 56; McCormick a 
friend of, 80; on use of steam power 
by the farmer, 153 

Guild system. See Trade Guilds 

Hager, A. G., traveling agent for 
McCormick reaper, 47 

Hall, Mary Ann, daughter of Patrick 
Hall, wife of Robert McCormick, 
and mother of Cyrus Hall Mc 
Cormick, i, 6, 7. See also Mc 
Cormick, Mrs. Robert 

Hall, Patrick, 7 

Hamilton, Ontario, International 
Harvester Co. begins new plant at, 

Hand grenades, 175 

Haney, of International Harvester 
Co., 144 

Harrows, introduced by International 
Harvester Co., 121, 124, 146 

Hart, C. W., engineer, 155 

Hart- Parr tractor, 157, 194 

Harvest, fifteen years ago and to-day, 
compared, 214, 215 

Harvester, invention of, 67, 68, 75; 
right-hand, 93; push type of, 145; 
resulted from the reaper, 204 

Harvester Industrial Council Plan, 

Harvester-thresher, of 1931, 18, 146; 
the large, 212; the light, 212, 213; 
use of, 214-19; lineal descendant 
of the reaper, 288 

Harvester war, 94-107, 109, no, 118, 
121, 126, 128 

Harvesting machines, old-line, 121, 
128; new-line, 121, 193 

Hay presses, 145, 146 

Hay rakes, no, 145 



Hay tedder, 145 

Haymarket Riot, 89, 135 

Header, the, 145, 151, 213, 214 

Header-binder, 213 

Hemispherical map, constructed by 
McCormick, 8 

Hempbrake, invention of Robert 
McCormick, 21 

High Cost of Living, after the War, 

1 I75> 176 

Hillside plow, invention of Mc 
Cormick, 8, 21, 44 

Hoover, Herbert, Secretary of Com 
merce, 184, 255 

Horse, decline of the, 206-08; where 
he still lives, 221 

Howe, Elias, inventor of the sewing- 
machine, 3 

Hubbard, H, G., traveling agent 
for McCormick reaper, 47 

Hussey, Obed, reaper patented by, 
20; McCormick s controversies 
with, 23-25, 27, 34; his reaper in 
England, 55, 56; his reaper as 
mower, 60 ; references to, 44, 46 

Hutchinson, Prof. William T., his de 
scription of the McCormick Works, 
37; quotations from, 48, 49, 62 

Hyde, Secretary of Agriculture, 184 

India, farm power in, 244, 245 
Individualism, fostered by the guild 
system, 40, 41 ; fostered by power 
farming, 223; uncertainty of, 242 
1 Industrial betterment. See Welfare 

Industrial Relations Department, 


Industry, development of, 38-42; 
modernism in, 41; and manu 
facturing efficiency, 43; has been 
America s leading contribution to 
modern civilization, 247; Ameri 
can, source of, 248; and machinery, 
248, 249; and mass production, 259 
Insurance, benefit, 261 
Interchangeability of parts, 42 
Interior, The, religious newspaper, 
bought by McCormick, 79 

Internal combustion, principle of, 


Internal combustion engines, 154 
International Exposition in Paris 

(1855), 56 

International Harvester Co., 51; 
formation of, 94, 99, 114-19; bene 
fits expected from, 116; benefits 
resulting from, 116, 126, 127; vot 
ing trust, 1 1 8, 120; early troubles 
of, 119-21; volume of business dur 
ing first ten years of, 121; intro 
duces new-line machines, 121, 
193; its foreign trade, 122, 131; 
companies acquired by, 122-24; 
develops new lines of agricultural 
equipment, 122-25, 130, 131, 145, 
146; attacks problems of vertical 
integration, 128; produces steel, 
128; exploits ore mines, 128; builds 
plant at Hamilton, Ontario, for 
Canadian requirements, 129; fail 
ure of its effort to make binder- 
twine from American-grown flax, 
129, 130; distribution of products 
between its plants, 130, 131; and 
mass-production, 131, 132; its for 
eign Works, 133; its interest in 
welfare and industrial relations, 
133-39, 261; the Spirit, 141-44, 
183, 244-46, 272, 276; its full 
line/ 146, 150, 189-91; its experi 
mental work, 147-50; its double 
sales arrangements, 150, 151; 
manufactures tractors, 155-63; 
develops exports of tractors, 158; 
early skepticism of farmers toward, 
164; attacked as dangerous trust, 1 
165; charges against, proven false, 
165, 166; suits brought against, 
166-72, 180-83; compelled to sell 
Osborne, Champion, and Mil 
waukee lines, 171, 1 80, 185; its 
service in the World War, 173, 
175; its losses in Europe as result 
of the War, 173, 174; in the years 
of depression following 1920, I77~ 
80; accused of dumping/ 183, 184; 
effect on, of single-dealer require- 



ment of court decree, 1 86, 187; 
institution of McCormick-Deering 
line, 1 88; takes on plows, 188, 189, 
191; buys Parlin and Orendorff 
Co., 1 88; buys Chattanooga Plow 
Co., 191; competitors of, 193-201; 
recovery of, 201-03; matures the 
power take-off and the all- 
purpose tractor, 209; its distribut 
ing system, 226-46; its ideal of 
service, 241-43, 251; in Canada, 
243; its system of production, 
247-69; its factories, 255-58, 260; 
importance of management in its 
production system, 261 ; introduc 
tion of works councils by, 262-69; 
4 occupational rating, 267; the 
question of quality discussed by 
, works councils, 268, 269; its per 
sonnel, 269, 270; internal admin 
istration of, 273, 274; Agricultural 
Extension Department of, 276-79; 
loyalty of Harvester men to, 279, 

International Harvester Corporation, 

Invention, created by new demands, 


Inventions, change wrought in com 
mercial methods by, 41 

Iron, McCormick s industry in, 21; 
collapse in price of, in panic of 
1837, 21 

1 Iron Man r machine, 64 

Isthmian Canal, 81 

Japan, motor-truck in, 245 

Jobbers, 244 

Johnston, of International Harvester 

Co., 144 
Jones, W. E., in partnership with 

McCormick, 29 

Kemp manure spreader, bought by 
International Harvester Co., 123, 


Kerfoot, W. D., of Chicago, 74 
Kerosene, as fuel, 157 
Kerosene Annie/ 157 

Ketchum, William F., builds reapers 

in competition with McCormick, 

34; his mower, 46, 60 
Keystone Co., of Rock Falls, 111., 

bought by International Harvester 

Co., 123 

Keystone hay tool, 145 
Knife grinder, 145 

Labor and capital, 135 

Labor cost, 252, 254 

Legge, Alexander, general manager 

of International Harvester Co., 

140, 142, 144, 179, 196, 199, 202, 

245, 268, 272, 273 
Lexington, Va., McCormick makes 

trial of reaper at, 19, 20 
Lexington Union, first advertisement 

of the reaper in, 43 
Lincoln, Abraham, 7; counsel for 

Manny in McCormick suit, 62; 

his intellect, 84 
Lister, the first, 67 
Loaders, 147 
Lobogreika, Russian reaper, 133, 


Local agents, 48, 226 
Locke, his inventions, 71 
London Times, jibes at McCormick s 

reaper, 55, 56 

McCormick, Cyrus Hall, demon 
strates the reaper, 1-3; agricul 
ture before the time of, 4; his 
ancestry, 6; his inherited and 
acquired qualities, 7; his birth- 
year, and place of birth, 7; his 
schooling, 7, 8; early inventions 
of, 8, 21; possibly helps father 
in attempts to build mechanical 
reaper, 8, 9; invents reaper, 9-11; 
made real contribution to well- 
being of the world, II, 16; the aim 
of his striving, 15; the shop in 
which he invented the reaper, 15; 
patents reaper, 19, 20; makes ef 
forts to improve reaper, 19, 20; 
lays aside reaper temporarily, 20, 
21 ; engages in making pig iron, 21 ; 



in panic of 1837, 21; and Robert 
McCormick, understanding be 
tween, 21, 22; resumes work on 
reaper, 22; his controversy with 
Hussey, 23-25; travels to New 
York and the West, 25; contem 
plates moving business to the 
West, 26; sells a license to Sey 
mour and Morgan, 26; moves to 
Chicago, 26, 28; loses application 
for patent extension on reaper, 27, 
34; his success in Chicago, 28, 29; 
rides over the plains, 30; qualities 
of> 31 3 2 ; was an inventor of 
modern business, 33; a pioneer of 
mass production and waste-saving 
methods, 33; became the leading 
industrialist of his generation, 35; 
growth of his business due to skill, 
boldness, and business acumen, 35; 
sees that every machine is built in 
his own factory, 35; his factory of 
1848 described, 36; his factory the 
root of modern American business 
system, 41-43; his insistence upon 
4 quality, 43; his advertising meth 
ods, 43-47; his traveling agents and 
local agents, 47-49; his credit sys 
tem, 50-52; summary of his inno 
vations, 52, 53; aims at foreign 
trade, 54; made corresponding 
member of the Legion of Honor, 
57; made member of Institute of 
France, 57; wins suit against 
Seymour and Morgan, 61 ; loses in 
suit against Manny, 61; in the 
years following 1848, 62; builds 
harvesters, 68; builds wire binders, 
69; builds twine binders, 71 ; promi 
nent in the rebuilding of Chicago, 
73; builds new Works, 74, 75; new 
methods employed by, 76, 77; his 
welfare work, 77, 78; his interest in 
church affairs, 78, 79; his corre 
spondence, 79, So; his interest in 
governmental affairs, 80 ; his in 
terest in public affairs, 80, 81; 
Chicago newspapers owned by, 81 ; 
generous of counsel, 81, 82; his 

marriage, 82; his activity, 82-84; 
his lawsuits, 84, 85; his personal 
enemies, 85; the pioneering spirit 
of, 85-88; death, 90; his tolerance 
toward the problems of humanity, 
139; was a pioneer when pioneering 
was needed, 140; his self -dedica 
tion to the cause of agriculture, 
142; his influence a vital force in 
upbuilding of early American in 
dustry, 249 

McCormick, Mrs. Cyrus Hall (nee 
Fowler), 82; McCorrnick s letters 
copied by, 83 ; as a business woman, 
91, 271; loved by all, in; her zeal, 

McCormick, Cyrus H., son of Cyrus 
Hall McCormick, chosen president 
of the McCormick Harvesting 
Machine Co., 90; buys Gorham 
patents, 92; settles Gordon claim, 
92 ; experiments on freak machines, 
92-94; insistent for private field 
tests and public trials, 94; his 
warfare, 101; and Champion, 101, 
103-05; president of American 
Harvester Co., 108; a conversation 
with Deering, 109; seeks aid of 
Morgan, in, 113; member of 
voting trust of International Har 
vester Co., 118; his interest in wel 
fare of employees, 139; his stand 
ard of harmony and coordination, 
140; quoted on the Harvester Co. s 
first ten years, 141; dedicated his 
life to the advancement of agricul 
ture, 142, 143; contribution of, to 
Harvester, 271 

McCormick, Harold, son of Cyrus 
Hall McCormick, 109, 140, 143, 
179, 271, 272 

McCormick, J. B., traveling repre 
sentative for McCormick reaper, 

McCormick, Leander J., brother of 

Cyrus Hall McCormick, sent by 
Cyrus to Cincinnati, 26, 78; plant 
superintendent in McCormick 
Works, 38 



McCormick, Robert, son of Thomas, 
6; weaver and farmer, 7 

McCormick, Robert, son of Robert 
and father of Cyrus Hall McCor 
mick, 1,6; activities of, 7; his at 
tempts to build mechanical reaper, 
8-1 1 ; inventions of, 21; in panic of 
1837, 21; and Cyrus McCormick, 
understanding between, 21, 22; 
the farmers view of, 142 

McCormick, Mrs. Robert (Mary 
Ann Hall), ir, 15, 142 

McCormick, Thomas, migrates to 
America (1734), 6 

McCormick, William, brother of 
Cyrus Hall McCormick, letter of, 
to Cyrus McCormick, 35, 62; 
Cyrus McCormick s letters to, 80 

McCormick corn binder, 94-96 

McCormick-Deering line, 187, 188, 

McCormick Harvesting Machine 
Co., Cyrus H. McCormick chosen 
president of, 90; and Deering Co., 
rivalry of, 94-112; and the In 
ternational Harvester Co., 117; 
branches of, in Odessa and South 
America, 244 

McCormick, Ogden & Company, 29, 

McCormick Works, 36; the new, 75, 
76; strike at, 89, 90; under In 
ternational Harvester Co., 131, 

McDowell, Col. James, friend of 
McCormick, u 

Machinery, and industry, 248; fun 
damental principles of production 
by, 249, 250; in factories, 253-55; 
is the essential of mass production, 

McHugh, William D., lawyer, 171 

McKinstry, of International Har 
vester Co., 144 

Malleable castings, no 

Management, importance of, in 
production system, 261 

Manchuria, Harvester service in, 
244, 245 

Mann, H. F., sells reapers in compe 
tition with McCormick, 34 

Manning, worked on problem of 
reaper, 10 

Manny, John H., his mower, 46, 60 ; 
wins patent suit from McCormick, 

Manure spreader, 123, 125, 145 

Marsh boys, 101; inventors of the 
Harvester, 67, 68 

Mason, Roswell B., Mayor of Chi 
cago at time of Chicago Fire, 74 

Mass distribution, a pioneer of, 33 

Mass production, McCormick a 
pioneer in, 33; its part in American 
manufacturing systems, 41; the el 
ements of, 41; the elements of, 
devised in McCormick s factory, 
4 1 "43, 76, 77; under International 
Harvester Co., 131, 132; designed 

to lessen cost, 222; foundation of 
modern methods of, 254; machin 
ery is the essential of, 258; ramified 
problems of, 259 

Massey-Harris of Canada, 173, 193 

Massie, Capt. William, friend of 
McCormick, n 

Matron, the, 137 

Medill, Joseph, of Chicago, 74 

Mendelssohn, Moses, 7 

Mexico, the tractor in, 158 

Miller, Lewis, his mower (Buckeye), 

Milwaukee Harvester Co., 113, 117, 
123, 124 

Milwaukee lines, sold by Harvester 
in accordance with consent decree 
of 1918, 171, 180, 185, 186 

Milwaukee Works, 163, 255 

Minneapolis-Moline Power Imple 
ment Co., 194 

Minnie Harvester Co., bought by 
International Harvester Co., 123; 
plant, 129 

Model cottages, 78 

Moline, buys Milwaukee line, 186, 

Morgan, J. P., 115 

Morgan (J. P.) & Co., in, 113 



Morse, Samuel Finley Breese, in 
ventor of the telegraph, 3 

Motor cars, for pleasure, 145 

Motor trucks, 124, 145, 147; an in 
strument of power farming, 221; 
personnel, 229, 230 

Mower, progenitor of, 24; Manny s, 
46, 60; Kctchum s, 46, 60 ; the 
first McCormick, 59; early at 
tempts, 59, 60; Hussey s, 60; 
Buckeye, 60 ; Osborne s, 64; Mc- 
Cormick center-draft, 92; Cham 
pion^, 102; average yearly sail of, 
before 1902, 121; made by Har 
vester Co., 133, 145, 146; wheel- 
less, attached to tractor, 220 

Mower-frame boring machine, 131, 

Nagel, Charles, Secretary of Com 
merce and Labor, 184 

Napoleon, his activity, 83 

New lines, 1,45, 146 

New York Tribune, Horace Greeley 
in, 56 

New Zealand, Harvester service in, 
244, 245 

Nitrates, 176 

Occupational rating, 267 

Odessa, McCormick branches at, 244 

Office manager, 232 

Ogden, William B., in partnership 

with McCormick, 28, 29, 34 
Ogle, worked on problem of reaper, 


Ohio Manufacturing Co., Upper San- 
dusky, Ohio, 155 
Old lines, 145, 146 
Oliver, James, his plow, 66, 67 
Oliver Farm Equipment Co., 194 
Ore mines, the exploitation of, 129 
Orendorff, William, becomes partner 

of William Parlin, 67 
Organization, birth of, 39; advance 
ment of, 39, 40 

Osborne, D. M., his mower, 64; set 
tlement of claim of, 92 
Osborne (D. M.) & Co., of Auburn, 

N.Y., bought by International 
Harvester Co., 122 

Osborne lines of tillage implements, 
145; sold by Harvester in accord 
ance with consent decree of 1918, 
171, 180, 185 

Osborne Works (Auburn Works), 
retained by Harvester at sale of 
Osborne lines, 186 

Otto, inventor, 154 

Otto internal combustion engine of 
1876, 154 

Painting tanks, 77 

Palmer, Potter, of Chicago, 74 

Panic of 1837, 21 

Parlin, William, his plow, 67 

Parlin & Orendorff Co., 188 

Parr, C. H., engineer, 155 

Part-time operations, 116 

Patent law, a rule of, 1 8 

Pension systems, for employees, 138, 
139, 261, 262 

Perkins, George W., of J. P. Morgan 
& Co., secures consolidation of 
harvester companies, 113-19 

Perkins, H. P., of International Har 
vester Co., 144 

Philippines, Harvester service in, 

244. 245 

Pig iron, McCormick engages in 
making of, 21 

Pioneer spirit, the, 85-87 

Pitt, worked on problem of reaper, 9 

Plagues, of Egypt, 5 

Piano Co., and the International 
Harvester Co., 117, 123 

Planters, 146 

Plow, hillside, 8, 21, 44; in Egypt, 
12, 13; as symbol in Egyptian 
alphabet, 13; the wooden, 65; the 
iron, 65; the steel, 65, 66, 204; 
Deere s, 65, 66; Oliver s, 66, 67; 
Parlin s, 67; the lister, 67; pro 
duced by Harvester Co., 146; 
taken on by Harvester Co., 188, 
189, 191, 192; sulky, 189; gang, 
189; chilled iron, 191; coupled 
closely to tractor, 220 



Poe, Edgar Allan, 7 

Poland, McCormick s reaper in, 56 

Potato diggers, 220 

Power farming, 190, 192, 206; began 
to appear in 1831 with the inven 
tion of the reaper, 152; compared 
with farming by animal power, 
206-08; advantages of, 208, 209; 
the power take-off, 209; the 
Farwell (or all-purpose) tractor, 
209-12; the harvester-thresher, 
212-19; windrow method of har 
vesting, 217; improvements de 
signed to suit all-purpose tractor, 
219, 220; motor-truck as instru 
ment of, 221; aims to lessen cost, 
222; increases individual pro 
ductivity, 222, 223; social advan 
tages brought by, 223; improve 
ments in, probable, 224, 225 

Power take-off/ 209 

Prairie Chicken, The/ 93 

Prayer-dances, 14 

Presbyterian Church, McCorrnick s 
interest in, 78, 79 

Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 
McCorrnick s interest in, 78 

Processed manufacturing, 254 

Production, the Harvester system 
of, 247-69; machine, fundamen 
tal principles of, 249, 250; cost of, 
283, 286. See also Labor cost 

Progress, 288 

Progressive assembly/ 254 

t Progressive machining/ 254 

Propaganda, 99. See also Adver 

Prussia, McCorrnick s reaper in, 56 

Public demonstration, 33 

Rakes, no, 145, 146; side-delivery, 

Ranney, of International Harvester 
Co., 144 

Reaper, attempts made by Robert 
McCormick to build, 8-10; early 
efforts to solve problem of, 10, 18, 
19; problem of, solved by Mc 
Cormick, 9-11 ; Obed Hussey s, 20, 

23-25; sold by at least thirty firms 
by the end of 1850, 34; Ban-all s, 
46; Densmore s, 46; Talcott and 
Emerson s, 64; Warder and Gless- 
ner s, 64; the social importance of, 
152; the progeny of, 204; self-rake, 

McCormick s, demonstration of, 
i; the initial machine of early 
July (1831), 10; the machine of 
late July (1831), 10; scene of in 
vention of, 15; the essential prin 
ciples of, 17, 1 8, 218; patented 
(1834), 19, 20, 27; efforts at im 
provement of, made by McCor 
mick, 19, 20, 22; prse-i840 and 
post-1840 styles of, 22; 1850 style 
of, 22; sales of, 22, 23, 25-27, 29; 
price of, 23, 50; newspaper ar 
ticles on, 23; a license for man 
ufacture of, sold to Seymour and 
Morgan, 26; two other patents 
secured on (1845 and 1847), 26, 27; 
becomes McCormick s Patent Vir 
ginia Reaper, 27; patent extension 
on, refused, 27, 34; wheat produc 
tion before, 29; in the Middle 
West, 30; opportune appearance 
of, 30; McCormick s production of 
(through 1849), 34; the 1848 fac 
tory, 36; growth of factory, 36-38; 
improvements in, 43, 49, 57, 58, 
64; the advertising of, 42-47; 
traveling agents for, 47; in 
Great Britain, 55, 56; prizes won 
by, 55-57; in Europe, 56, 57; ad 
vertising value of foreign reports 
on, 57; its service in the Civil 
War, 62, 63; the post-bellum style, 
63; the self-rake machine, 164; 
evolution of, 71, 72; new methods 
employed in making of, 76, 77; is 
now a thing of the past, 287; the 
spirit of, alive in its heirs, 287, 288 

Reapers, War of, 100; made by 
Harvester Co., 145 

Reaping hook, 12, 13, 29 

Reay, of International Harvester 
Co., 144 



Red Babies, 202, 235, 240 

Repairs foreman, 232 

Rice, cultivation of, in Java and 

China, 14 
Rolling mill, 1 10 
Roosevelt, Theodore, his activity, 


Royal Agricultural Society, Prince 
Albert s, 55 

Rumely Co., 140 

Rumely tractor, 157, 159 

Russia, farming in, 5; McCormick s 
reaper in, 56; trade of Interna 
tional Harvester Co. with, 122; 
Harvester Co. s Works at Lu- 
bertzy, 133; the tractor in, 158; 
losses of Harvester in, as result of 
Bolshevik rebellion, 174; power 
machinery in, 245 

Sales system, modern, 96; Mc 
Cormick s, 112; Harvester s, see 

Salesmanship, the art of, 94-107 

Salesmen, 227, 228 

Sanitation, 137 

Scientific American, on value of the 
reaper in the Civil War, 63 

Scotch- Irishmen, 30 

Scythe, Invention of, 14 

Section-hardening furnaces, 131 

Seeding machinery, 146 

Service, 141-44, 183, 191; a vital de 
sideratum to purchasers, 127; work 
the real root of, 233; Harvester s 
ideal of, 241-43, 251, 291, 292 

Service manager, 232 

Service men, 228 

Sewing-machine, invention of, 3 

Seymour and Morgan, of Brockport, 
McCormick sells license to, for 
manufacture of reapers, 26; oppose 
extension of original patent on the 
reaper, 27, 28; oppose extension 
of 1834 patent, 34; McCormick 
wins suit against, 6 1 

Shell-adapters, 175 

Sherman Anti-Trust Law, 108, 117, 
169, 170, 176 

Shredder, 145 

Siam, tractor in, 245 

Sickness and death benefits, 262 

Sisal fiber, 176 

Society of Automotive Engineers, 
amalgamates with Society of 
Tractor Engineers, 162 

Society of Tractor Engineers, amal 
gamates with Society of Automo 
tive Engineers, 162 

South America, Trade of Interna 
tional Harvester Co, with, 122; 
McCormick and Deering machines 
in, 244 

Specialty men, 229 

Spinning-mill machinery, 38 

Springfield Works. See Champion 
Works, 1 86 

Stabilization, importance of, 126 

Standard of living, of farmers and 
city workers, 283 

Standardization, 259; its part in 
American manufacturing system, 

4L 42 

Stanton, Edwin M., counsel for 
Manny in McCormick suit, 62; 
on value of the reaper in the Civil 
War, 63 

Stationary gasoline engines, 124, 
125, 130, 145, 147 

Stationary thresher, 146 

Steam-boat, invention of, 3 

Steam power, its application to farm 
problems, 153-57 

Steam power plant, portable, the 
first, 153 

Steel, Bessemer process of working, 
3; made by International Har 
vester Co., 121, 128 

Steele, John, his tavern, 3 

Stephenson, George, 3; produces 
railway locomotive, 153 

Stock company, invention of, 40 

Strassburg Clock, The, 92 

Strike, at McCormick Works, 89; 
railway, 135 

Subagent, the, 226 

Surveying instruments, made by Mc 
Cormick, 8 



Sweden, Works of Harvester Co. at 
Norrkoping, 133 

Talcott and Emerson, their reaper, 

Tariff, 283 

Taylor, Frederick W., his book on 
scientific manufacturing, 253, 254 

Taylor, William, 19 

Tedders, 147 

Telegraph, invention of, 3 

Tennyson, Alfred, 7 

Thresher, horse- power, 204; steam- 

\ power, 205 

Threshing machine, 146; invention of 
Robert McCormick, 21 

Time and motion study, 254, 267 

Tractor companies, 161, 163 

Tractor Works, 132, 158, 160, 255 

Tractors, built by Harvester Co., 
124, 130, 132, 145-47; not an easy 
affair, 149, 150; the social import 
ance of, 152; the history of, 153- 
57, 205; gasoline, 154, 156; internal 
combustion, 155; industry of, on 
large scale, born in 1906, 155, 156; 
plowing demonstrations of, 156, 
157, 161; production of, 157, 158; 
large-sized, 157-60; in foreign 
countries, 158; small, 159, 160; 
Bull, 159-61; Mogul, 8-16, 160, 
163; Titan, 10-20, 160, 163, 255; 
production of, 160, 161; Holt, 161; 
Case, A very, and Moline, 161; 
Ford, 161-63, 195-201; use in 
power farming, 206, 207; advan 
tages of, 208, 209; Farmall or all- 
purpose, 209-12, 219; implements 
planned to suit, 219, 220; have 
brought in a higher type of farm 
implement, 220, 221; McCormick- 
Deering, 15-30, 255; spirit of 
reaper still present in, 288. See 
also Power farming 
Trade guilds, 40, 41 
Transfer warehouse, 242 
* Traveling agents, 47 
Traveling salesmen, 48 
Trusts/ former feeling against, 164 

165; suits against, 166-72, 180- 


Twine. See binder twine 
Tylochine, 92 

Union Pacific R.R., 80 

United States, population of, in 1831, 

Jnited States Steel Corporation, 

assumes leadership in cause of 

safety, 133; suit against, 170 
Utley, of International Harvester 

Co., 144 

Vacations, 262, 265 
Valley of Virginia, the reaper demon 
strated in, 1-3; described, 15, 16 
Ventilating systems, 137 
Vertical integration, problems of, 128 
Virginia farm, a picture of, 85, 86 

Wages, after the Great War, 176; 
reduction of, in years of depres 
sion following 1920, 177. See also 
Labor cost 

Wagons, 147 

Walking cultivators, 188 

Walnut Grove farm, 2, 23 

War prosperity, 176 

Warder, Benjamin H., his reaper, 64 

Warehouse, branch, 233-36; trans 
fer, 242 

Warranty of product, 33 

Waste-saving methods of manu 
facture, a pioneer in, 33 

Watt, James, his patent for a steam 
road carriage, 153 

Weber wagon, 123, 145 

Weber Wagon Co., of Chicago, 
bought by International Harvester 
Co., 123 

Webster City, Iowa, 52 

Welfare work, McCormick s interest 
in, 77, 78; Harvester Co/s interest 

in, 133-39, 26* 

Wheat, production of, in 1845, 29 
Whitely, William N., works on The 

Strassburg Clock/ 92; a feat of, 

1 01 



Whitman, Barnes Co., Akron, Ohio, 
1 08 

Whitney, EH, inventor of the cotton- 
gin, 3 

Wilson, J. L., traveling agent for 
McCormick reaper, 48 

Wilson, John P., lawyer, 171 

Windrow-harvester, 217, 218 

Winnipeg, McCormick opens branch 
house in, 243 

Winnipeg tractor contests, 156, 157 

Withington, Charles B., invents wire 

binder, 69 

Workers. See Employees 
Working conditions, 136, 137 
Workingmen s Party, 135 
Works councils, 262-69 
World War, 170-76 
Wrenches, speed, 253 

Yucatan, sisal fiber monopoly in, 

1 02 062